For school children in the Bay Area, Tuesday presents a rare opportunity to take in a professional hockey game with all of their classmates. For the San Jose Barracuda, it brings a mid-semester test, bigger than any they’ve been assigned this year.
The Barracuda will faceoff against the Stockton Heat for the fifth time this season today, but with an unusual added twist; an 11 a.m. start time, as San Jose hosts local students for ‘Cuda Classroom Day.
As the Barracuda get into the meat of their season, they’re finding out that their road to a Pacific Division playoff spot isn’t so cut and dry. Following two heartbreaking overtime losses over the weekend in Colorado, the ‘Cuda’s 1-2-2 record over their last five games has the team on their worst stretch of the year, and they’re hoping to reignite the offense that was so prevalent early in the campaign.
One player who’s looking to find his scoring touch again is Jayden Halbgewachs, who has collected just one assist in the month of November after putting up ten points in October. Roy Sommer attempted to get Halbgewachs back on track by putting him alongside Rourke Chartier and Manny Wiederer on Friday against Colorado, but on Saturday was relegated to the press box in favor of recent AHL signee Ivan Kosorenkov.
The same could be said for Dylan Gambrell, who has struggled to find consistency thanks to being bounced between the ‘Cuda and the Sharks all season long. Gambrell did earn an assist on Jeffrey Viel’s third goal of the season over the weekend, a step in the right direction that he’ll look to build upon this morning.
Meanwhile, after a rough start to the season in Stockton, Cail MacLean’s team has turned things around of late, winning six of their last nine. The hot streak has pushed the Heat into a tie for third in the Pacific with Colorado, but as the only team in the division with over 20 games played they still have some ground to make up.
Curtis Lazar has risen to become a major contributor for the Heat, posting five goals and four assists in the team’s last six games, including three assists in a 6-3 loss to the San Diego Gulls on Sunday. The 23 year-old Lazar’s 17 points puts him in a tie with former New York Islander Alan Quine for the team lead.
Sunday’s game also marked the return of Andrew Mangiapane to the Stockton lineup after missing the last nine games with a lower body injury. His offensive talent is a welcome re-addition the Heat’s top-six, as his sixth goal of the season on Sunday showed.
In the cages, Antoine Bibeau will take his turn after a 39-save effort against the Eagles on Friday, while the Heat have called upon both Jon Gillies and recent addition Nick Schneider, who has gone 5-1-0 since his call-up from the Kansas City Mavericks of the ECHL.
The Barracuda and Heat will kick things off at the SAP Center this morning at 11 a.m. Pacific. If your office allows some personal radio, you can stream the radio broadcast using the link sjbarracuda.com/listen or the Sharks + SAP Center app on your phone. For those of you with the day off, you can stream on the new AHLTV.