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For Barracuda Fans, Tech CU Arena Is Whole New World

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Credit: Hockey Shots/Dean Tait

San Jose Barracuda fans have entered a whole new world.

Since their debut in Oct. 2015, the Barracuda have played at their parent club San Jose Sharks’ home arena, SAP Center. And while the Tank is rocking when it’s 17,562-full, for the Cuda, who often had less than a thousand fans show up for home games, the empty atmosphere could be deflating for both players and fans alike.

Enter Tech CU Arena, the Barracuda’s brand-new 4,200-seat home, located next to Sharks Ice at San Jose. The Cuda opened a sold-out Tech CU with a 4-0 victory over the Henderson Silver Knights on Oct. 22.

Nicknamed The Reef, Tech CU is the new home for all practices, games, team film sessions, and training for the San Jose Sharks’ AHL affiliate. And with a smaller facility, Cuda fans are feeling more connected.

A group of long-time season ticket holders, the SJ Battery Pack, have welcomed the new arena. Battery Pack leader Carlos Bazley, who you can usually find in Section 108, above rink side bar Fireball Cove, is looking forward to an entire season of home games at Tech CU.

“There’s not really a bad seat in the arena,” Bazley said. “We are here to be loud and have a good time.”

Fellow Battery Pack member Paige Leslie feels that the connection between players to fans is a vast improvement at Tech CU Arena compared to the home of the San Jose Sharks.

“It’s very intimate. You have much closer contact with [the] players,” Leslie said. “You can see them doing the [off-ice] warm-ups before the game. You can always fist-bump the players entering the ice. I feel like they are my kids. I feel like I am here to support my crew.”

Leslie also said she usually brings snacks to the games for fellow Battery Pack friends, which prompted her nickname of Mama Paige.

Long-time San Jose Sharks and Barracuda fan Gabrielle LaFrank felt the same connection to the players, and noted the smaller arena makes it easier to interact with fans too.

“It’s easy to socialize. You feel very connected to everyone else,” LaFrank said.

It’s not just the more intimate environment that’s already made Barracuda fans feel at home at Tech CU.

Leslie loves being able to watch the action from ice level, right behind the net, at Fireball Cove.

“We are more of a family here. You get to know the regulars. Plenty of one-on-one time with your favorite bartenders,” Leslie said.

The overall reviews on the arena are positive, but there are a few things that are taking some adjusting to.

Mark Pfahnl is a first-year season ticket holder for the San Jose Barracuda but has attended games before the move to Tech CU.

“Parking was a bit tough,” Pfahnl noted of Tech CU Arena.

“I’m not convinced on the new goal song,” avid crowd chant starter David Gotlieb pointed out. “We lost the dance, but [the new goal song] brings a new energy that we will figure out.”

So Tech CU Arena isn’t quite home yet for Barracuda fans, but it’s getting there fast.

Led by top San Jose Sharks prospects William Eklund and Thomas Bordeleau, veteran additions like Andrew Agozzino, Derrick Pouliot, and Aaron Dell, the 4-0-0 Barracuda already have got fans dreaming.

“We are hoping to go all the way this year,” Bazley proclaimed, eyes on the Barracuda’s first Calder Cup.

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