There were two factors that led to a disappointing loss for the San Jose Barracuda last night at the SAP Center: a lack of shot opportunities and questionable penalty calls against Brandon Mashinter late into the third period. The Rockford IceHogs came into town for the first time since the Barracuda’s inaugural game on October 9th, 2015, and the final score mirrors their last encounter at the SAP Center, a 4-2 final in favor of Rockford.
As he did in the inaugural game, Troy Grosenick received the call in net for the Barracuda. Prior to tonight’s game, Grosenick had a 5-5-2 record. In the Rockford net was 23-year-old Collin Delia, a Blackhawks camp invitee who impressed the front office so much that they offered him an entry-level contract. Delia currently sports a .876 save percentage in eight games played with Rockford.
The first period was all Rockford, throwing 19 shots on Troy Grosenick in the first, which was a far cry from the Barracuda’s measly four shots on goal. Despite all the shots, the IceHogs could only get one goal past Grosenick. On a 2-on-1 opportunity, Matheson Iacopelli opted to shoot on net, firing one past Grosenick glove-side to put the IceHogs on the board first.
With the Barracuda still at a major disadvantage in shots, they found their opportunity on their first power play of the night and capitalized on it. Danny O’Regan, at the bottom of the face off circle, pulled off a nifty backhand pass over to Julius Bergman, who sent the puck high and well past the glove of Delia on a slap shot to tie the game up in the second. Rockford struck back on yet another 2-on-1 opportunity, when Tyler Sikura’s initial opportunity was stopped by Troy, but Sikura would bang home the rebound to make it 2-1. Rockford found another opportunity late in the second, as Tanner Kero read a shot perfectly and poked it past Mike Brodzinski and a sprawling Troy Grosenick for his third goal of the season.
The third period was where things got interesting on all ends of play. It’s said that goals come in bunches, and they seem to be coming in bunches for a certain Rudolfs Balcers. The play began with a shot near the point by Filip Sandberg, which Jacob Middleton caught on the rebound near the perimeter. Middleton then attempted to pass to Balcers, but the puck took a deflection off of Adam Clendening’s skate which Balcers took advantage of and slammed it home. The Sharks’ fifth round pick in 2015 out of Latvia has now had five goals in his last ten games, and is currently putting up .76 points per game.
With the game close and under two minutes to go, Brandon Mashinter was called for an apparent high stick, which he and Grosenick took exception to. I say apparent, because from my angle, it looked nowhere near a high stick. Tanner Kero was then able to put the game away on an empty-net goal right near the neutral zone face-off dot and seal the deal for Rockford.
With a number of 2016-17 Barracuda members on the Sharks currently, the Barracuda are still looking to mend multiple cracks in their lineup, especially on the third defensive pairing and the fourth line. Losing both Jeremy Roy for the season with a knee injury and Rourke Chartier indefinitely with another concussion does little to help their case.
The Barracuda will take on the Bakersfield Condors next on Monday at 1:15 pm PST.