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Next Wave: A Year of Firsts

by Kyle Stuetzel / sjsharks.com

The 2020-21 Prospect Season is highlighted by strong performances and the San Jose Barracuda advancing to the semi-finals of the Pacific Division Playoffs.

In a series of recaps of San Jose Sharks prospects, the organization saw several players step up and make significant impacts to their respective teams, whether in the U.S. or overseas, in what ended up being a unique outcome of a season.

Let's first take a look at some noteworthy "firsts" in this edition of our Next Wave report presented by Kaiser Permanente:

The Barracuda had a season to remember, both on the ice and off. After opening the season at what became their home-away-from-home in Arizona for training camp, similar to the Sharks due to COVID restrictions, the Barracuda ended up staying in another state for nearly two months before returning to San Jose and playing at SAP Center and Sharks Ice in San Jose.

The team played its first regular game in 333 days playing against Tucson on Feb. 6 after their sixth preseason game was canceled halfway through along with the final exhibition game and the first scheduled regular-season game on Feb. 5 after what turned out to be a false positive test.

That was not the only roadblock the team faced in their journey this year to the Pacific Division Playoffs, as the team experienced an out-of-the-ordinary winter storm in Texas caused by a polar vortex and were stuck for a week before the team was able to fly back to Arizona, not home, on February 18.

Then after another few cancellations of games, the Barracuda were able to return to San Jose (finally) on February 27 and went on a 6-0-1-1 run on home ice before losing their first regulation game in the Bay Area 7-2 to Texas.

Despite all of the hardships the team faced, they found a way to win two crucial, single-elimination games to earn the right to play the Henderson Silver Knights in the semi-finals of the Pacific Division playoffs. Unfortunately, the team lost the three-game series.

Despite the result, the organization witnessed several top prospects play in the American Hockey League and achieve success.

Brandon Coe, Ozzy Wiesblatt, Tristen Robins, Scott Reedy and Brinson Pasichnuk were a few of several players who made their professional debuts this season.

Wiesblatt also became the youngest Barracuda player to make his professional debut and was the youngest player in franchise history to score a goal.

Coe was granted eligibility to play in the AHL with the OHL season canceled, while Scott Reedy appeared in 17 games with the Cuda after signing with the Sharks on April 2. Reedy registered eight points and recorded one point in the postseason.

At the conclusion of the season, Joachim Blichfeld led the Barracuda in goals (12) and points (22) and several players were promoted from the Cuda to the Sharks and made their NHL debuts, including: Sasha Chmelevski, Fredrik Handemark, Nicolas Meloche, Brinson Pasichnuk, Ivan Chekhovich, Jeffrey Viel, Josef Korenar and Alexei Melnichuk.

For the full Sharks player report, click here.

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