Barracuda 6, Heat 5: ‘Cuda end 2018 in blaze of glory

A total of eleven goals determined the finish of the last Barracuda game of 2018.

2018 was quite the year for the San Jose Barracuda. From John McCarthy being named to the US Olympic men’s ice hockey team for the 2018 Winter Olympics, to injuries left and right, to an unforgettable surge to the playoffs, it was certainly a wild ride. The Barracuda closed out the year out in the barn of their heated rivals, a team they had taken out of the 2018 playoff race earlier this year, the Stockton Heat.

Josef Korenar and Tyler Parsons started in net for the ‘Cuda and Heat, respectively. Parsons had only made one appearance prior to last night against the Barracuda; he backstopped the Heat en route to a 3-2 win over the Barracuda in the SAP Center on Oct. 21. Korenar, meanwhile, faced the Heat three other times previously, maintaining a perfect 3-0-0 record.

The Barracuda got out to a quick lead in the first period, thanks to Alexander True. Jacob Middleton dished the puck to Jayden Halbgewachs, who wheeled it around the net before finding True parked in front of Parsons for the 1-0 lead.

In what felt like a theme, the Heat answered back. A one time opportunity from Matthew Phillips was hammered home by Kerby Rychel to tie it.

Manny Wiederer sure likes to play at the Stockton Arena. Of his 9 goals on the season, 4 have been scored there, and he decided to show his appreciation for the Heat fans tonight by once again finding the back of the net. Maxim Letunov, wheeling the puck behind the net, found a direct lane to Wiederer, who slammed it past Parsons to give the ‘Cuda a 2-1 lead.

But the Heat just wouldn’t give. The ‘Cuda got caught on an odd-man rush just a minute after Wiederer’s goal and Brett Pollock made them pay for it.

The two teams left the first frame deadlocked, but much more action was to come.

The Barracuda decided to once again start the second period with a bang. Even without their linemate and Barracuda leading scorer, Francis Perron, the duo of Alex True and Jon Martin continued to click. True found their new, and most likely temporary linemate Jayden Halbgewachs on a 3-on-1 opportunity, and he immediately passed it to Martin, who put the ‘Cuda up 3-2.

Can you guess what happened next?

If you guessed “The Heat tied it, again,” congratulations! A nice pass from Matthew Phillips back to Kerby Rychel resulted in a shot that Korenar got a piece of, but not all of, as Phillips forced it home for his first of the night.

Then the ‘Cuda offense came together completely.

A giveaway by a Heat defenseman was recovered by Vincent Praplan, who surged to the net for the ‘Cuda’s fourth lead of the night.

Not even 30 seconds later, the Barracuda forced another turnover that led to a goal. This time, it was Jayden Halbgewachs on a breakaway, assisted by the duo of True and Martin.

Vincent Praplan decided that he just wasn’t finished with Tyler Parsons toward the end of the second period. Cavan Fitzgerald had a little give-and-go with Jeremy Roy before dishing it to Antti Suomela, who fired a shot on net that rebounded for Praplan to bang home. That goal ended Tyler Parsons’ night, as he was immediately replaced by Jon Gillies in the Stockton net.

Things started to get a lot tighter in the third period. The Cuda were firing shots on all cylinders, but Jon Gillies stood strong where Parsons could not. Rob Hamilton tallied a power play goal for the Heat to begin the third period and cut their deficit down to two.

The Heat’s never-say-die attitude jumped out once again when Ryan Lomberg created a mad scramble in front of Josef Korenar before sending the loose puck into the net, bringing the Heat back within one. But in the end, it proved to be too much. The final horn blew to once again end another classic game between these two Northern California rivals.

San Jose will next take the ice in San Diego on Jan. 4 to face a surging San Diego Gulls team.