On the ice, Jayden Halbgewachs is an expert at scoring goals for the San Jose Barracuda.
Off the ice, Halbgewachs takes his talents to the shores of Katepwa Lake.
Every summer, you can find Halbgewachs swiftly riding the warm waters, enjoying his favorite dog day activities of wave surfing and wakeboarding.
“I’m a big summer person,” Halbgewachs said. “I love wave surfing and wakeboarding. Hanging out on my boat is definitely one of my favorite activities.”
Can he perform any tricks out on the open water?
“I can do 360s, flips, grabbing the board, you name it,” Halbgewachs said. “I’m actually pretty good at it. I’ve been doing it for years now. I absolutely love it. I’ve brought my hockey buddies and we go around the lake a bunch.”
Halbgewachs, 24, often invites his Barracuda teammates each summer to his lot on the lake back home in the Qu’appelle Valley in Saskatchewan. He says Noah Gregor and Zach Sawchenko, his roommates, have some good moves out there.
“Noah is a beast, but I definitely got more tricks up my sleeve than him,” Halbgewachs said with a chuckle.
During the summer, Halbgewachs is out on the lake about twice a week. However, he finds time to get in his off-season conditioning and summer workouts with his teammates and occasionally his father Jamie Halbgewachs.
While Jayden continues to hone his craft at wakeboarding, he hopes to find a similar stride of consistency as one of his main goals this season.
“I want to come into this year and be a more consistent player and put up more points,” said Halbgewachs, who is second on the Barracuda with nine assists and 16 points in 19 games. “I want to be a leader on this team and lead by example.”
That’s a twin tune to the message from the San Jose Sharks organization on how Halbgewachs can improve his game in his fourth year in the American Hockey League. After all, consistency is key.
“They want me to be more consistent,” Halbgewachs said. “Once I find that consistency, things are going to be great for me. It’s sharpening up my defensive zone and playing a good team game and then letting my skill take over at times.”
Barracuda strike first. Halbgewachs with his seventh goal of the season. pic.twitter.com/v1uVobS966
— Michael Gutnick (@michaelgutnick) December 5, 2021
Halbgewachs’ speed and strength with the puck has been noticeably improved throughout this season. He’s set up some of the Barracuda’s highlight-reel goals this season and has earned ample time on the team’s top power-play unit.
Halbgewachs sees defenseman Jake Middleton’s path as a sign of encouragement with Middleton spending five years in the AHL before earning his shot as a regular alongside Erik Karlsson on the San Jose Sharks.
“He went through some ups and downs, but he continued to work and work,” Halbgewachs said. “I think, for me, that’s a similar scenario. I just have to stick with it and continue to evolve my game.”
Jayden’s Hockey Journey
Growing up in Emerald Park, Saskatchewan, it was essentially a given for Halbgewachs to lace up a pair of skates and learn over the frozen ponds with his family.
However, he earned some extra motivation from his older brother Brandon Halbgewachs, skating and playing against Brandon’s friends who were nearly two feet taller than him.
“A big part of it was my older brother,” Halbgewachs said. “I always wanted to play with him and all his friends. He put a big emphasis on my career. That’s how I got to where I am today.
“I always wanted to go and compete with him and his friends and play a bunch of older guys. That gave me a competitive edge to try to beat older people at a young age.”
After a couple years with the Regina Pat Canadians, Halbgewachs spent the next four seasons with the Moose Jaw Warriors where he gradually found success. In his final year there, he tallied 70 goals and 129 points in 72 games.
“It was great,” Halbgewachs said. “My WHL season started off slow the first couple years, but then I got more opportunities and found my groove. I played with great teammates and I enjoyed it.”
One of his Moose Jaw Warrior teammates included Noah Gregor, who was a fellow San Jose Sharks prospect at the time.
“We had a good group of core guys there,” said Halbgewachs, who also skated alongside Nashville Predator Tanner Jeannot and Vegas Golden Knight Brett Howden. “Me and Gregor and bunch of those guys, we still get together in the summer and go golfing and wave surfing. Lot of great times together and we continue to do it each year. We all get along very well.”
With the San Jose Barracuda, Halbgewachs has also steadily improved his game. After 35 points in his first two seasons, he was hampered by a hip injury that derailed the bulk of his third year where he sat out 10 games.
“Last year was tough. It was the first time in my career that I’ve ever taken an injury. It was tough on my body and my mind and it got to me. Rehabbing and summer training and getting back into a clear mindset were the biggest things for me coming into this season and so far, I’ve felt good playing.”
Since his injury, Halbgewachs has rebounded nicely. He’s on pace to break his personal bests if he can play the full year, which is important considering he will be a restricted free agent this summer.
SO MANY GOALS. This one courtesy of Halbgewachs.
Back within 1 👊 pic.twitter.com/dvlbppQjux
— San Jose Barracuda (@sjbarracuda) November 20, 2021
“This is one of the biggest years for me and for my career,” Halbgewachs said. “It can be stressful at times, but you just got to clear your mind and make things happen on the ice so you can take that step and earn that next contract.”
‘Fragile’ Barracuda Grind Through Hard-Hit Week
It’s been tough sledding for the Barracuda over the last two weeks, losing seven out of their nine games, including four out of five during a recent road trip.
San Jose (7-11-1-0) lost four straight in their first meetings with the San Diego Gulls. A trip north of the border saw a high-scoring affair between the Barracuda and Abbotsford Canucks. The two teams split the series with a 6-4 win and a 5-2 loss.
“We have to be more physical more in front of the net,” Raska said. “We’re too soft. That’s my opinion.”
In the last four games, the Barracuda have been outscored 22-8, which includes a 10-1 loss to the Stockton Heat — San Jose’s worst defeat of the season in terms of margin.
“We’re leaking defensively,” Barracuda head coach Roy Sommer said. “We’re at a loss for words right now on our defensive zone.”
It’s still unclear who has grabbed the reins of the No. 1 starting job in goal. Zachary Sawchenko has started four of San Jose’s last six games, but his sub-.900 SV% and back-to-back starts being pulled is worrisome. Alexei Melnichuk isn’t much better, owning a .861 SV% in 11 games.
“We don’t have a No. 1 because no one has come out and taken it or said I’m the guy,” Sommer said. “Right now, we’re kind of fragile. You can see it on the bench when we get scored on.”
Joel Kellman returned from a concussion on Saturday when the Barracuda faced the Abbotsford at home. Kellman finished with a -1 rating.
Adam Raska notched his first career AHL goal. That led to the downpour of teddy bears from the 2,257 fans in attendance at SAP Center.
— Michael Gutnick (@michaelgutnick) December 11, 2021
It put a smile on Raska’s face, but that didn’t last long as the Canucks carried on as victors, 5-1.
“It was really fun,” Raska said. “I was smiling after that goal with the teddy bears, but still we lost the game, and that’s sad.”
On Sunday, the Barracuda’s two-goal first period led to a much smoother journey to wrap up a matinee performance on a high note. San Jose defeated Abbotsford by a final score of 5-2.
Scott Reedy, Sasha Chmelevski, and Halbgewachs scored on the power play, marking the first time this season scoring three times up a man. Evan Weinger found the back of the net for his team’s first short-handed goal of the season.
Evander Kane made his AHL debut this weekend, finishing with one power-play assist, nine SOGs, and a +1 rating.
— Michael Gutnick (@michaelgutnick) December 13, 2021
On the upcoming docket, San Jose welcomes in the Colorado Eagles on Wednesday before heading out to Southern California next weekend.
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