As a result of injuries, recalls and illnesses last season, current San Jose Barracuda goaltender Aaron Dell became a surprise standout in the hockey realm when he backstopped the then Worcester Sharks to their first playoff appearance in five years by posting a 15-8-2 record with four shutouts to go along with a 2.06 goals-against-average and .927 save percentage.
Dell, who began last season as the starting goaltender for the ECHL Allen Americans, was rewarded for his stellar play in Worcester when the San Jose Sharks signed him on March 4 for the remainder of the season and then re-signed him to a one-year contract on Aug. 3.
On Friday night at the SAP Center, Dell wowed the San Jose home crowd by making 43-saves, 20 of which came in the third period, to lead the Barracuda to a 5-3 win over the Stockton Heat (AHL affiliate of the Calgary Flames).
Winning for the third time on home ice this season, the Barracuda got a combined nine points from the newly form line of Barclay Goodrow (goal, three assists), Ryan Carpenter (goal, two assists) and Petter Emanuelsson (two assists). Also scoring were forwards John McCarthy, Jeremy Langlois and defenseman Julius Bergman.
The Barracuda, who only managed 18 shots on goal for the game, jumped out to a 3-0 lead thanks to first period goals by McCarthy, Carpenter and Bergman. All three goals had Goodrow credited with the secondary assist.
McCarthy scored his third goal of the season at 3:09 when he followed his own shot and lifted a backhanded rebound up-and-over Heat goaltender Joni Ortio after taking a behind the net centering feed from Carpenter. Nearly two minutes later at 4:56, Carpenter made it 2-0 with his second goal of the season when he fired a rebound past Ortio after Ortio had stopped Barracuda defenseman Mirco Mueller for a power play goal.
At 16:51, Bergman tapped the puck into an open net for his second goal of the season after Ortio robbed Emanuelsson of goal on his one-timer from the right point, which was set-up by a nice cross zone pass from Goodrow.
The three goal lead didn't last long as the Heat the got the goal back 12-seconds later when forward Kenny Agostino scored the first of his two goals on the night by beating an outstretched Dell with a one-timer from deep in the right slot.
Goodrow regained the Barracuda's three goal lead at 11:04 of the second period when he fired a backhanded shot into an open net from on top of the crease for his fifth goal of the season. Carpenter, who sent a pass to the top of the crease from the left wall near the corner, and Emanuelsson had the assists on the goal, which held up as the game winner.
As was the case in the first period, Agostino answered Goodrow's goal with a tap in goal from the right side of the crease for his second goal of the game (third of the season) with just 28-seconds left in the middle frame after the Heat had hemmed the Barracuda in their own zone.
Agostino's second goal gave the Heat new life as they out-shot the Barracuda 21-3 in the third period and pulled to within a goal at 16:23 when on their fourth power play of the period, defenseman Aaron Johnson beat Dell with a slap shot from the center point for his first goal of the season.
The Heat nearly tied the game on several scoring chances following Johnson's goal but Dell made five big saves to preserve the Barracuda one goal lead. With Ortio pulled for the extra attacker, Langlois scored an empty net goal at 19:43 to seal a 5-3 Barracuda win.
NOTES... Shots on goal were 46-18 in favor of the Heat... The Barracuda went 1-for-3 on the power play and 4-for-5 on the penalty kill... Dell is now 4-4-1 with a 2.45 goals-against-average and .918 save percentage... Barracuda forward Micheal Haley and defenseman Dylan DeMelo were recalled to San Jose on Thursday afternoon... The Barracuda were assessed 22 penalty minutes... Barracuda defenseman Gus Young fought Heat forward Turner Elson at 10:17 of the first period, which was followed by Barracuda captain Bryan Lerg fighting Heat forward Garnet Hathaway at 12:14... The Barracuda improved to 3-5-1 at SAP Center and 8-8-3 with 19 points overall... The Barracuda are back in action Saturday afternoon (Dec. 5) as they host the Bakersfield Condors on Ugly Sweaters Day at 1:30pm/pt.
1. Barclay Goodrow - Barracuda (1-3-4, GWG)
2. Ryan Carpenter - Barracuda (1-2-3)
3. Aaron Dell - Barracuda (43 saves, WIN)
*In order of appearance*
Hanson / Lerg (C) / Langlois
Goldobin / McCarthy (A) / Jevpalovs
Godorow / Carpenter / Emanuelsson
McLaren / Doremus / Parkes
*In order of appearance*
Young / Ryan
Mueller / Stollery (A)
Cundari / Bergman