April 26, 2022
It’s a wrap. The 2021-22 season officially ended in Henderson on Saturday night as the Barracuda suffered a 5-2 loss to the Silver Knights.
I remember looking at our roster in October and thinking we were going to have a really strong team, a team that could compete for the division. That was wiped out pretty quickly as the club never really found their footing. Injuries, COVID/cab team, trades, recalls, were all factors. A total of 19 different players have appeared in games with the Sharks and Barracuda, and 52 players have been used (franchise record) at various times by head coach Roy Sommer. Of the 52, 29 were considered AHL rookies (franchise record) while the Barracuda averaged the youngest roster in the league (23.65). Of the 19 players who played the first game of the year at Bakersfield on October 17, only six were still on Barracuda’s roster at the end of the year, and no member of the club’s management group remained. (Jaycob Megna – Sharks, Mark Alt – Rochester Americans and Dylan Gambrell – Ottawa Senators).
Although the season ended with the team losing its last 15 games, we saw a bright future with the professional debuts of Thomas Bordeleau, Daniil Gushchin and Gannon Laroque in the latter part of the year. Bordeleau has already endeared himself to Sharks fans forever with his theatrical shootout in Vegas on Sunday.
Gushchin, is expected to start next year in the AHL, although technically he still has one year left of junior eligibility. Laroque is too young to play in the American League next season, so he will return to the Western Hockey League (WHL), where he should be one of the best players in the league. The teenager has just been named the BC Division Defenseman of the Year last week and was also named BC Division First Team All-Star.
Although the Barracuda won’t participate, all seven Pacific Division playoff berths have been secured, with Stockton blocking the first-seeded Pac, meaning they’ll earn a first-round bye. It’s still a three-team race for third place in the division between Abbotsford, Bakersfield and Colorado. The Canucks and Condors are the likeliest representatives for third place since Colorado is out of games. The Canucks have three games to play, while the Condors are down to two. The two clubs will face off tonight (Tuesday) in Bakersfield. Abbotsford is the hottest team in the league and is on a nine-game point streak (8-0-1).
A big congratulations to Brandon Coe who was named ‘Sharks Prospect of the Year’ 2021-22. Due to COVID-19, he spent the full year with the Barracuda in 2020-21. That experience of playing against men and being immersed in the professional environment certainly made returning to junior a similar process.
The 20-year-old forward dominated the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) for the North Bay Battalion, shattering career highs in every major offensive category. He scored 101 points, good for fifth among OHL skaters, and leads North Bay in assists and points. The forward, often lined up on the right wing, helped North Bay finish with the third-best offense with 267 total goals and the fourth-best power play in the OHL, which hit 25.9% . He directly factored into 36 of the battalion’s 60 power-play goals, scoring eight goals and collecting 28 power-play assists.
Coe and the Batalion are still in the OHL playoffs and currently have a 3-0 lead over Ottawa’s 67. Coe already has seven points (3+4=7) in the first three games.
Upcoming important dates:
The NHL’s free agency period begins at noon ET on July 3, 2022
2022 NHL Draft July 7-8, 2022 (Bell Center in Montreal)
Development Camp 2022 (date to come)
Rookie Faceoff September 16-19, 2022 (Tech CU Arena)
Barracuda Home Opener October 22, 2022 (Tech CU Arena)
That will suffice for this week’s edition of Nolly’s Notes. Going forward, I will write a new blog every two weeks during the summer, as opposed to every week. Thank you to everyone who read and supported. See you soon and see you until next time.