The San Jose Barracuda came into the Budweiser Events Center up in Loveland, Colorado after a statement win over the team they’d end up facing the next two games, the Colorado Eagles. Their first matchup of the season, back when the Cuda were the Cleveland Barons for one night only, was a 5-0 blowout with two goals from Francis Perron and a shutout by Josef Korenar.
Tonight, the backup goaltenders from that Sunday night got the starts — Antoine Bibeau and the Eagles’ Pavel Francouz. Coming into tonight, Bibeau had a goals against average (GAA) of just 1.96 over eight starts, good enough for third in the entire AHL. Francouz, on the other hand, had a GAA of 2.92 in 14 games played.
The first period saw the Eagles jump out to a quick lead early. After Dominic Tominato easily found his way around Cavan Fitzgerald, he sent a backhand dish straight to Ty Lewis who was parked in the right place to give the Eagles a 1-0 lead.
Nearly four minutes later, the Barracuda tied things up. After Thomas Gregoire kept a rolling puck in the offensive zone, he found Alexander True, who made a move to the front of the net and slid it past Pavel Francouz to equalize.
Colorado answered twice from there, however. Surging out of the penalty box on a breakaway, the Eagles’ leading scorer, Andrew Agozzino, won a board battle and shot an easy one past Keaton Middleton and Antoine Bibeau for a 2-1 lead.
Things only seemed to get worse for the ‘Cuda after a chance from Michael Joly led to a goal from J-C Beaudin to make it 3-1 in favor of the Eagles with under a minute to go in the period. Antoine Bibeau had originally stopped the first shot from Joly, but couldn’t get to Beaudin’s shot and the ‘Cuda went to the locker room in a hole, down 3-1.
The Barracuda found some life midway through the second period when Manny Wiederer gave them a short-handed goal. A great interception at the right time from Wiederer gave him a clear breakaway opportunity and he made good use of it to push the Barracuda within one.
A lot of bad blood was apparent, and was probably left over from the 5-0 thrashing from Sunday, in this game, but it was a few minutes after the goal that things started to go awry. Kyle Wood and Travis Barron dropped the gloves and were sentenced to five for fighting.
The third period kicked off where the second left off, with another fight. This time, it was Jeffrey Viel and Mason Geertsen dropping the gloves. It turned out to be the boost of energy the ‘Cuda needed.
Francis Perron tied the game four minutes in to the third period with a twisted wrister that Pavel Francouz never saw, and one that I couldn’t, either.
Why Colorado chose that location for their camera, I’ll never know, but what we do know is that in only 15 games, Francis Perron tied his points total from all of last year, with 15.
Some back-and-forth action and goaltending clinics from both Bibeau and Francouz proved to be not enough for regulation, so for the third time this season, the Barracuda headed into an extra frame.
The Eagles out-shot the Barracuda just 3-1 in overtime before Scott Kosmachuk, from a near impossible angle, got the puck past Bibeau to give the Eagles the extra point and the win.
These two teams will meet again tomorrow night: same time, same place, probably different goalies.