Agozzino a natural leader for Barracuda

Photo: Andreea Cardani

📝 by Lizz Child | AHL On The Beat

You know when you talk to someone and you can tell they are actively listening, even when you ask them a silly question about whether they prefer pancakes, waffles or French toast?

San Jose Barracuda forward Andrew Agozzino is one of those people. He was named team captain for several reasons, but the level of effort he shows in all areas is surely at the top of the list and he has been rewarded for it this season.

Agozzino signed a two-year, two-way contract with the San Jose Sharks this past July. It was a deal that meant moving his family back to California, where he played with the San Diego Gulls and Anaheim Ducks in 2020-21, from Canada, where he spent last season with Belleville and Ottawa in his home province of Ontario.

While the move associated with changing organizations is certainly nothing new, Agozzino recognizes the difficulties of moving with a family, even in the offseason.

“When it was just my wife and I, it was easy to just pack the things and go,” Agozzino said. “Now, there is a lot more planning and legwork that is involved in it.”

However, the planning ahead of the move west worked out well. Agozzino, his wife Julia and their two children Harlow and Hudson arrived in San Jose almost a month ahead of training camp. The early arrival allowed them to find a routine and get some familiarity, which Agozzino says made their lives a little bit easier.

With the Barracuda in the same city as their NHL affiliate, Agozzino’s assignment to the AHL ahead of opening night did not require another move. Instead, it required a jersey modification.

Named the fourth captain in Barracuda history, for a team with as many as 11 rookies on the roster at times throughout the season, Agozzino says he has not felt extra responsibility to change his style of leadership or to focus on the younger guys.

“I know that’s part of the job, but I really don’t look at it that way,” he said. “I’m a pretty vocal person to begin with so I find that pretty natural. I find that being myself is the best way to go about it. I just kind of do what I do. There’s a reason I’ve been able to be in the league for so long. If I can pass that along, just through my actions, I think that’s the best natural way to do it.”

With Agozzino recalled to the Sharks on Sunday morning, the Barracuda are in a position they have only experienced during a brief stretch in January: their captain missing from the lineup.

Of course, when Agozzino missed five games it was due to an injury, not a call to the NHL. Yet somehow he turned his time out of the lineup into a mid-season reset for his game.

“The injury was, looking back, maybe something that was a blessing in disguise,” he said. “To kind of take a step back and take a breath through a long season and reevaluate where [my] game is at. It gave me a chance to find my game from within and things have been going really well since I’ve been back.”

They certainly have. Since returning on Jan. 20, Agozzino has appeared in all 21 games and collected 14 goals and 12 assists. He leads the Barracuda in points (52), goals (24) and assists (28) and fans have been watching closely as he nears the 26-goal mark, a total that would see him set a new franchise record for a single season.

It’s not inconceivable to think that, should he rejoin the team before the regular season ends, Agozzino could find his name next to a Barracuda record.

Oh, and if you were wondering… Between pancakes, waffles and French toast, Agozzino prefers pancakes.