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Barracuda maintain top spot in the AHL

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Barracuda earn 5 of 6 possible points over the last week

San Jose Barracuda

San Diego Gulls 7 - San Jose Barracuda 6 F/OT

The Barracuda played one of their worst games of the season in San Diego on Wednesday night as the teams combined for eight goals in the first period alone. The ‘Cuda took the game to overtime where they were handed a defeat by their greatest threat for the Pacific title.

Kevin Labanc (6) opened the scoring on a power-play goal while Nic Kerdiles, who blocked a shot earlier in the sequence, was on the ice in obvious pain. Since the play never left the zone the refs and fans alike could do nothing but watch. The hometown fans let their displeasure known and even many Barracuda fans admitted they would rather have the play blown dead even if it meant no Barracuda goal.

This goal seemed to galvanize the Gulls who responded with two goals of their own. Tim Heed (12) responded for the Barracuda. The Gulls scored another two goals taking advantage of some poor play in front of Troy Grosenick. Colin Blackwell (5) pulled the Barracuda back within one, but once again the Gulls extended the lead back to two before the period was over.

This ended the night for Troy Grosenick who made eight saves on 13 shots. He was replaced by Mantas Armalis to start the second.

Nic Kerdiles returned to the game and got his own revenge as the Gulls extended their lead to three goals on the power play. By this point the Barracuda seemed to find their game a little and really stole back momentum from the Gulls. This started with an immediate response to the Kerdiles goal when Nikita Jevpalovs (12) scored for the Barracuda.

San Jose did all the scoring in the second period as Barclay Goodrow (18) and Timo Meier (12) tied the game at six and forced overtime. They ended the night for Gulls goaltender Dustin Tokarski who was replaced by Kevin Boyle.

Unfortunately for the Barracuda their push back came up short as Tyler Morley ended the game with just 10 seconds left in overtime to give the Gulls the win. Mantas Armalis made 23 saves on 25 shots in relief playing one of his best games of the season. Kevin Boyle made 10 of 10 saves for the Gulls.

San Jose Barracuda 1 - Grand Rapids Griffins 0 F/SO

Saturday night the San Jose Barracuda return home to face off against the Central Division leading Grand Rapids Griffins. Some people believe that scoring leads to a more enjoyable hockey game and I can only speak for myself but this might have been one of the best games that I have watched this year.

After giving up seven goals on Wednesday night they put on a defensive clinic against the Griffins holding them to just 22 shots on the game. You also have to give a lot of credit to Griffins goaltender Jared Coreau who made 31 saves, many of them brilliant. Troy Grosenick was equally good when called upon.

Three full periods and overtime solved nothing, leading to the shootout. Going into this game the Barracuda have had nothing but problems in the shootout with an 0-4 record and only one goal to show for their previous efforts.

Evgeny Svechnikov started the shootout for the Griffins and was denied by Grosenick. John McCarthy was also denied by Coreau. Tyler Bertuzzi was denied by Grosenick to keep the game scoreless.

Kevin Labanc took the next shot and scored to put the pressure on the Griffins to keep pace with their potential last shot of the game.

Matt Lorito scored for the Griffins to tie it up but with the Barracuda shooting last Danny O’Regan had the game on his stick and made no mistake giving the Barracuda the hard fought win over a very good Griffins team.

San Jose Barracuda 3 - San Diego Gulls 0

The Barracuda and Gulls met again in what felt like their 100th meeting in the last two weeks. Troy Grosenick started in goal looking for redemption after his poor showing in their previous meeting. The team in front of Grosenick needed to be better as well.

The Barracuda ended up being short handed as Tim Heed and Ryan Carpenter were called up to the Sharks before the game. That, combined with a short turnaround, had the Barracuda looking sluggish in the first period where they were outshot 10-4. Thankfully, Troy Grosenick was up to the task.

In a penalty-filled second period the Barracuda special teams went to work starting with a Danny O’Regan (19) power-play goal with assists from Timo Meier (10) and Kevin Labanc (12) on a shot that you have to see to believe because I still don’t know how he found the back of the net from that angle.

Just over a minute later Buddy Robinson (12) would break in short handed and make no mistake with a little deke around Boyle to put the Barracuda up by two with an unassisted goal. Robinson has been proven to be quite the acquisition from the front office for the AHL squad.

Goodrow added an empty net goal in the third and Troy Grosenick earned his second shutout in as many nights saving all 25 shots he faced.

Notes:

  • Troy Grosenick now leads the AHL with 9 shutouts on the season.
  • The Barracuda wore black sweaters on saturday inspired by a design submitted by Erik Kuhre in the fan jersey design competition.
  • The Barracuda remain in first place in the AHL standings with a points percentage of .722, If they playoffs started today they would face the Bakersfield Condors.