Blades Corner: Chartier, Gambrell lead charge as Kansas City slices through Bakersfield

A performance stronger than a Kansas tornado.

Kansas City already has addresses in two different states, but after tonight they might own Bakersfield, California as well.

Donning the uniforms of the Sharks’ former International Hockey League affiliates, the Kansas City Blades, the San Jose Barracuda took down the Bakersfield Condors 4-0 to sweep their weekend home-and-home series two games to none. Rourke Chartier and Dylan Gambrell each had a goal and an assist, while Josef Korenar made 31 saves to pick up his second shutout in his last six games.

For Gambrell, getting his first goal in over two months was the long-awaited product of his hard work this season. “There’s always ups and downs during the season, but I think if you just stick with it and try to play the right way, I think eventually you’ll get rewarded,” Gambrell said.

The ‘Cuda wasted no time in getting the offense going, as right off the opening faceoff Vincent Praplan caught the Condors flatfooted and made a quick pass up to Kyle Wood. Wood whipped a shot at the net, and Gambrell was able to deflect it underneath Bakersfield netminder Shane Starrett 23 seconds into the game.

Just moments after Gambrell’s opening tally, Jayden Halbgewachs quickly reentered the zone along the right boards and feathered the puck into the slot for a trailing Manny Wiederer. Wiederer managed to evade Condors defenseman Ryan Stanton and snapped the shot underneath Starrett’s arm, doubling San Jose’s lead in the first 40 seconds.

With the ‘Cuda having scored on both of their first two shots, Condors head coach Jay Woodcroft was forced to take his timeout less than a minute in. But the break didn’t prevent Francis Perron from intercepting a cross-ice pass for a breakaway and ripping the puck over the blocker of Starrett, making it 3-0 Barracuda after 20 minutes.

As the second period moved along, the Condors finally began showing signs of life, throwing 11 shots at the net. But Korenar was equal to the task, including during a Bakersfield 5-on-3 power play when he made a huge sliding save to rob Tyler Benson.

The game’s intensity picked up over the middle frame, with multiple scrums and penalties being dished out. When Mitch Callahan was called for cross-checking late in the second, some hard work behind the net by Perron and Nick DeSimone led to a grade-A chance for Chartier in front of the net. Chartier, who was left unchecked in front of the net, tapped in DeSimone’s pass from the corner for his second goal of the season.

The importance of striking on the man advantage, something the team has struggled with all year, wasn’t lost on Chartier after the game. “If you’re gonna play the minutes I play down here and be on the power play, you gotta contribute, Chartier said. “It was a nice pass out front, and it’s always nice to see those go in.”

The third period started well for the ‘Cuda, with the team earning some extended pressure in the offensive zone. But the Condors refused to go down without a fight, out-chancing San Jose 13-7 over the final 20. But Korenar once again stood on his head, preserving another clean sheet in a dream rookie season for both the Czech goalie and the club.

The Barracuda return to the ice on Saturday when they travel to San Diego for a matchup against the Gulls, with the game starting at 7 p.m. Pacific. Fans can tune in on both AHLTV and the Sharks + SAP Center app.