The San Jose Barracuda snapped a five-game skid, as well as a six-game home losing streak, on Valentine’s Day as they pulled out a victory over the top-seeded team in the Pacific Division in the Tucson Roadrunners.
Troy Grosenick and Hunter Miska started in goal for their respective teams. Grosenick, in 18 games played, has a .905 save percentage and a 6-8-3 record, whereas Miska is 15-5-0 with a .902 save percentage as well.
Prior to puck drop, the Barracuda recognized the loss of an off-ice official and season ticket holder in Rocky Barbanica with a moment of silence. Rocky loved his Sharks, ‘Cuda, and the gone, but not forgotten, San Francisco Bulls. He was an amazing man whom my fellow Barracuda fans and I loved, and I think I can speak for all of our ‘Cuda family when I say he will be missed dearly.
All tied up at 2-2 heading into the second intermission, but this is tonight's main goal. pic.twitter.com/4IbaVpYsgu— San Jose Barracuda (@sjbarracuda) February 15, 2018
Tucson dominated the game in the first period, with a 11-4 shot advantage at the end of the first. However, they were only able to muster one goal. Remember Lawson Crouse? He made a flashy, no-look pass to Mike Sislo, who beat Grosenick glove-side to put Tucson up.
San Jose Sislo #TUCvsSJ pic.twitter.com/2PZEdWiHix— Tucson Roadrunners (@RoadrunnersAHL) February 15, 2018
Roughly 5 minutes later, Emerson Clark celebrated his new contract with his sixth goal of the season. A bad bounce for the Roadrunners in their own zone culminated with Adam Helewka making a nice pass in traffic to an uncovered Clark to equalize it.
No better way to say happy Valentine's Day to #CudaCountry than this, Clark! #SJBarracuda pic.twitter.com/oyxB3CQCfa— San Jose Barracuda (@sjbarracuda) February 15, 2018
The Roadrunners have the second-best power play percentage in the Pacific Division, and it showed. Lane Pederson scored his eighth goal of the season on a one-timer that beat Grosenick blocker-side.
FEED HIM. @LanePederson with a laser #TUCvsSJ pic.twitter.com/U4Ggy8Oi4j— Tucson Roadrunners (@RoadrunnersAHL) February 15, 2018
Rudolfs Balcers almost immediately answered with his 13th goal of the season at 17:21. Off a nice pass from Tim Heed, Balcers got around a sprawling John Ramage and sent it blocker side to tie the game.
The goals just kept coming for Rudy, as a well-timed pass from — who else — Tim Heed found Balcers near the hash-marks and beat Miska once again on the blocker side to give the Barracuda the lead.
Rourke Chartier made a triumphant return to the Barracuda lineup with his third goal of the season. Chartier, who has only played six games this season and hasn’t played since November 26th, faced a one-on-two situation, but got past John Ramage and put it past Miska glove-side to ice the game for the Barracuda.
It's great to have you back, Chartier. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/HAmob8LHWY— San Jose Barracuda (@sjbarracuda) February 15, 2018
The return of Chartier is a key piece in solving the depth issue the Barracuda have had this year. According to eliteprospects.com, the Barracuda have signed eight players to PTOs this season.
Although the Barracuda are still seventh place in the Pacific Division, they aren’t completely out of the playoff race with a .533 winning percentage. For reference, San Antonio, Ontario, and Stockton have .549, .556, and .570 winning percentages respectively.
The boys then took Interstate 580 up to Stockton for a weekend series against the third-place Stockton Heat. Friday night’s match saw the Barracuda up 4-1 at one point, and then it all went south. Austin Carroll made it a 4-2 game, and then Rasmus Andersson scored consecutively with his fifth and sixth goals of the season to tie the game up late in the third period. With just about 30 seconds left in overtime, Hunter Shinkaruk delivered the game-winner for the Heat and a very tough to swallow loss for the Barracuda.
Saturday’s game didn’t have as much scoring action, however, with the Barracuda’s only goal of the game coming off of Rourke Chartier. Andrew Mangiapane and Spencer Foo’s goals in the second period were too much to come back from, as the Heat swept the weekend series.
The Barracuda will head down to Ontario and Bakersfield on Wednesday and Friday night, respectively. They will return to the Tank on March 2 for an 11 AM puck drop against the Bakersfield Condors. Yes, 11 in the morning- bring your coffee.