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Cuda Corner: Condors hand Barracuda first loss of the year in 3-2 shootout decision

Thank god for the pity point.

Bryan Del Fava, Fear the Fin

After opening the 2018-19 season with two lopsided victories, the San Jose Barracuda snapped back to reality on Wednesday, losing 3-2 in a shootout to the Bakersfield Condors. Antoine Bibeau’s 34-save night was a big reason the ‘Cuda earned a point, while Al Montoya stopped 23 shots and two in the shootout to seal the victory for the Condors.

The Barracuda’s first loss of the 2018-19 campaign was simply a case of being outplayed by a more talented opponent, as the Condors set the tempo for the majority of the night. But San Jose got off to a quick start in the first period when Manuel Wiederer intercepted a neutral zone pass, cut behind the Bakersfield net and fired a pass back to Keaton Middleton. Middleton threw a quick shot at the net, deflecting the puck off Alexander True’s skate before it trickled through Montoya to give the Barracuda the lead five minutes in.

From that point on, Bakersfield dominated the first period, out-shooting the ‘Cuda by a 16-5 margin and hemming them in their own zone for long stretches of time. The Condors’ pressure eventually paid off midway through the period when a Josh Currie pass into the slot was redirected by newcomer Evan Polei through Bibeau’s legs, sending the teams to the locker room tied at one.

San Jose ramped up the pressure in the second period, and partway through the frame got an unexpected break after an interference call on Tim Clifton was overturned and handed to Condors winger David Gust, who had hit Jacob Middleton just moments before. On the ensuing power play, a Jeremy Roy wrist shot was stopped by Montoya, but the rebound popped right out in front to Jayden Halbgewachs. The former Moose Jaw Warrior made no mistake, quickly backhanding it over Montoya’s left arm and restoring San Jose’s lead with his second goal of the season.

Despite Bakersfield once again out-shooting San Jose 10-9 in the second, the ‘Cuda seemed to be slowly regaining control of the game, and the third period saw the Condors take three straight trips to the sin bin as a result. But not only was the Barracuda power play unable to take advantage, costly mistakes in the neutral zone as the first power play expired gave Condors winger Joe Gambardella a breakaway chance. Gambardella snapped it over the right shoulder of Bibeau to notch his first of the year with 13 minutes remaining, while Patrick Russel and William Lagesson earned the helpers.

As regulation drew to a close both teams had golden chances to win it, like a Lukas Radil rebound shot that Montoya barely stretched across to stop and a Cooper Marody shot in the final seconds that went off the post. But 60 minutes weren’t enough, and the clubs went to overtime with the ‘Cuda having to serve the final 28 seconds of a too-many men penalty.

After the penalty expired, the teams traded chances back and forth until Bakersfield was called on a bench minor of their own with a minute and a half remaining in overtime. Despite having an extended 4-on-3, the Barracuda were once again unable to capitalize, finishing the night 1 for 5 on the man advantage and sending the game to the shootout.

Cooper Marody and Tyler Benson both scored on the Condors’ first two attempts, and Vincent Praplan beat Montoya on the San Jose’s second shot. Center Matt Fonteyne needed to score to keep the ‘Cuda alive, but lost control of the puck in front of the goal, securing victory for Bakersfield.

The opportunity to go 68-0-0 might be officially gone, but the extra point keeps the Barracuda one point ahead of Bakersfield for the early Pacific Division lead. San Jose will look to extend their point streak on Saturday when they visit their winless Norcal rivals, the Stockton Heat, at 6 p.m. Pacific.