After Barracuda head coach Roy Sommer earned his 700th win as an AHL head coach at the Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield, and forward Manny Wiederer scored in his first game back since the Cuda’s home opener against Grand Rapids, it seemed like that would give the Barracuda a mojo boost for their two game home stand against the top two teams in the Pacific Division, the Stockton Heat and the Tucson Roadrunners.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.
Wednesday night’s game against the Heat in front of 3,090 fans was arguably their worst in recent memory, and potentially their worst loss in their existence. After allowing three goals on eight shots, the third being a wrister from Spencer Foo from an almost impossible angle, the starting goaltender, Antoine Bibeau, was immediately yanked. This allowed Barracuda fans to get their first look at Olympic hopeful Parker Gahagen in only his second professional game. Unfortunately for Gahagen, he would end up conceding three goals as well, performing a tad bit better than Bibeau, stopping 12 of 15 shots faced. The ‘Cuda had four power play opportunities, but could not convert on any of them, and they suffered a 6-0 defeat.
One of Nick DeSimone’s former teammates, Spencer Foo, had a huge game for Stockton. Coming in to the SAP Center with only two professional goals to his name, Foo exploded on Wednesday night. He finished the night with his first professional hat trick, and only the third hat trick in the history of the Stockton Heat. His stats aren’t that impressive currently, with only .52 points per game to his name, but there is a lot of growing room for the 23-year-old out of Union College, who put up 62 points in 38 games in his final year in Schenectady.
Friday night’s game against Tucson showed a lot more promise, as Daniel O’Regan made the trip down the hallway to the ‘Cuda locker room after being reassigned that afternoon.
But that wasn’t the only reinforcements that the Baby Sharks were getting. That afternoon, it was announced that Bryan Moore would be rejoining the Barracuda after being sent down to the ECHL Allen Americans after the preseason, and joining him on a PTO would be Emerson Clark, a forward from the ECHL Jacksonville Icemen. In 12 games with Allen, Moore had seven goals and nine assists, while Clark, having played 19 games with the Icemen, had eight goals, 14 assists, and — I am not making this up — 113 penalty minutes. That’s right. 113 PIMs in 18 games. To me, this kid draws parallels to Stockton Thunder legend Garet Hunt. He was paired on the third line with Alex True and Moore, and definitely made an impact — no points for Clark, but he was definitely a physical presence out there for the Barracuda.
Antoine Bibeau guarded the pipes again for the Barracuda, and had a pretty decent game, stopping 25 out of 28 shots faced. However, he wasn’t without fault this game. The first goal of the game for Tucson came when Bibeau pulled an Alex Stalock and ventured out of his crease in an attempt to play the puck, but Michael Bunting poked it away and fired on a virtually empty net, giving the Roadrunners the 1-0 advantage.
Rudolfs Balcers answered back on the power play with a beauty of a backhander to tie it up, dangling around Hunter Miska and sliding it through glove-side. There was an abundance of power play opportunities for the Barracuda, including a 5-on-3 opportunity, but they came up empty for five out of six of them.
A closer look at Rudolfs Balcers scoring on the PP! pic.twitter.com/OiY4Emlnre— San Jose Barracuda (@sjbarracuda) December 9, 2017
A late goal from Mark Sislo in the third, assisted by a familiar face, Tye McGinn, gave the Roadrunners the lead, and 31 seconds later Michael Bunting delivered the dagger to end the game, and end the boys in teal’s unflattering home stand.
In other Barracuda news, defenseman Paul Martin will be joining the team on a conditioning assignment. He’s set to travel with the team to Tucson on Tuesday and Wednesday and then be back at the Tank for a weekend series with the Bakersfield Condors.