San Jose Barracuda make splash in AHL Western Conference finals

SAN JOSE (KTVU) -- The post-season run by the San Jose Sharks may be over but the South Bay team is still well represented in the playoffs thanks to their minor league affiliate.

The San Jose Barracuda has skated into the AHL Western Conference finals after no fewer than nine Barracuda players spent time with the big club this season, including Kevin LeBanc, who scored eight goals, Marcus Sorenson and Timo Meier, both of whom were fixtures in the Sharks' first-round series loss to Edmonton.

"It's disappointing going out with the Sharks," Meier said. "But as a young guy getting my chance with the ‘Cuda it's obviously a lot of fun."

Labanc agrees.

"You get to experience the NHL and come down here," he said. "You take the experience and you just play."

The benefit of experience goes both ways.

The Barracuda’s extended run will help minor-league skaters attract major-league attention.

"Basically, what it does (is) it make all your players that much more valuable to everyone else,” said Roy Sommer, the Barracuda's head coach. "People want guys who have gone a long way in the playoffs.”

"I think everyone can play in the NHL on this team," said Labanc. "There's a lot of great players."

Playing in the NHL is undoubtedly a long-term goal of everyone on the Barracuda's roster.

The Barracuda are the highest remaining seed in the AHL playoffs, which means the ultimate payoff is well within reach. Nobody knows that better than Sommer.

"You don't get a whole lot of opportunities to kick at the can, and this is ours so we have to take advantage of it," he said.

By KTVU sports reporter Scott Reiss.