Photo credit: @sjbarracuda
By Marko Ukalovic
In what resembled an old wild, wild west shoot out, the San Jose Barracuda needed all four-second period goals to hold on late to upend the Stockton Heat 6-5 on New Year’s Eve at Stockton Arena.
San Jose (19-6-1-3) drew first blood in the first five minutes of the game in a seesaw first period. Jayden Halbgewachs collected the puck at the far side, circled around the net and centered the puck over to Alex True, who beat Heat goalie Tyler Parsons (3-3-0) for his 10th goal of the season at the 5:36 mark. Jacob Middleton received the secondary assist.
Stockton (14-15-3-0) evened it up on the power play just over two minutes later. Curtis Lazar moved the puck over Matthew Phillips who threaded a pass over to Kirby Rychel and he buried the puck from point-blank range past Cuda goalie Josef Korenar (13-1-1) 15th goal of the season at the 7:47 mark.
The Cuda regained the lead when Maxim Letunov skated into the Heat zone from the neutral zone went up high and then down low, very similar to Halbgewachs, and fed a pass over to Manny Wiederer, who buried the puck past Parsons for his eighth goal of the season at the 16:47 mark.
However, like the first lead, the second one would be short-lived as well. Rob Hamilton fed a pass over Buddy Robinson, whose shot deflected off the left pad off Korenar. Brett Pollack was in front to clean up the rebound for his second goal of the season at the 17:34 mark. Pollack has two goals in last four games.
Jon Martin gave the Cuda their third lead at the beginning of the second period on a 3-on-2 odd man rush. Halbgewachs led the rush and drop passed the puck over to the Martin who snapped a wrister past Parsons inside the far post for his fourth goal of the season at the 1:49 mark. True received the secondary assist.
Phillips tied it up for the third straight time when his initial shot was stopped by Korenar, but he followed up on his rebound and put it through the five-hole of Korenar for his ninth goal of the season. The rookie forward is on a six-game point streak.
Vincent Praplan gave San Jose their fourth lead when he skated down the left-wing side, went behind the net and his wrap-around shot sneaked past underneath the pad of Parsons for his second goal of the season at the 8:56 mark. Captain John McCarthy and Dylan Gambrell were credited with assists.
Halbgewachs gave the Cuda their first two-goal lead of the game just 15 seconds later. Spencer Foo’s shot off a face off was blocked and True sprung a pass out that led to a breakaway for Halbgewachs, who put a deke on Parsons and snapped the puck in the back of the net for his seventh goal of the season at the 9:11 mark. It was Halbgewachs’ first goal in his last nine games. Martin received the secondary assist.
Praplan padded the lead for San Jose with his second goal of the night. He ended up with the puck out of a scramble in front of the net was able to beat Parsons for his third goal of the season at the 17:06 mark. The sixth goal allowed by Parson would be enough to send him to the showers for the rest of the night. He was replaced by Jon Gillies. Anti Suomela and Calvan Fitzgerald were credited with assists.
Stockton inched closer at the beginning of the third period with their second power play goal. Hamilton sent in an innocent looking wrist shot on net that had eyes of its own as Korenar never saw the puck and was in the back in the net for Hamilton’s third goal of the season at the 2:55 mark. It was his first goal in his last 12 games. Phillips and Rychel received assists.
Ryan Lomberg made it a one-goal game when he was able to poke the puck past Kornear in a mad scramble, where Korenar lost vision of the puck. Lomberg’s third goal of the season came at the 11:38 mark. left pad over and into the back of the net. Alan Quine received the only assist.
Korenar made 21 saves on 26 shots, including a huge save on Phillips with just seconds remaining to preserve the win, to earn his 13th victory of the season and seventh in a row. Parsons suffered the loss giving up six goals on 31 shots. Gillies stopped all 14 shots he faced in 22 minutes of mop up duty.
GAME NOTES: San Jose was 0/2 on the power play. Stockton was 2/2.
In seven games against San Jose, Rychel has scored eight points (6G, 2A).
The announced attendance was 3,450.
UP NEXT: San Jose continues their three-game road trip in San Diego as they take on the Gulls on Friday, January 4 at 7:00 pm.