Barracuda take down Heat 6-4

Photo credit: @sjbarracuda

By Marko Ukalovic

Alex True has been the best player for the San Jose Barracuda in the past two and a half months. His second goal of the contest proved to be the game-winning goal with seven minutes left to help San Jose defeat the Stockton Heat 6-4 in a wild game on Friday evening at Stockton Arena. San Jose has the best winning percentage in the AHL.

True skated in on a wide angle and with backu goalie Tyler Parson, in relief for starter Jon Gillies, going from left to right, True wrapped around the puck through the five hole for his 14th goal of the season at the 12:59 mark of the third period. He is now tied with Francis Perron for the team lead in goals and leads the teams in points with 34.

San Jose (25-8-2-4) drew first blood early in the first period. Captain John McCarthy fed a pass over to Jeffery Viel, who skated in and sent a wrister past Heat goaile Jon Gillies (6-12-4) just inside the right post for his seventh goal of the season at the 6:12 mark. Viel’s goal broke a 12-game goalless drought. Evan Weinger received the secondary assist.

The Cuda doubled their lead just over a minute and half later. Jon Martin sent over a pass over to the red-hot True, who fired a shot top self on the far side over the shoulder of Gillies for his 13th goal of the season at the 7:56 mark. Antti Suomela received the secondary assist. The Cuda scored two goals on the first six shots.

Stockton (18-21-4-1) cut the lead in half late in the opening frame. Kerby Rychel’s attempted shot on net was blocked by a San Jose defender, but the rebound went right to the stick of Curtis Lazar, who one-timed the puck past Cuda goalie Joesf Korenar (16-3-1) for Lazar’s 15th goal of the season at the 15:02 mark. Juuso Valimaki received the secondary assist.

In the second period, San Jose dominated the Heat scoring the next two goals. Rourke Chartier worked the puck below the end line and fed a perfect pass over to Francis  Perron, who buried a one-timer past Gillies for his 14th goal of the season at the 1:49 mark, snapping a seven-game goalless drought. Dylan Gambrell received the secondary assist.

San Jose gained a 4-1 lead as Perron returned the favor to Gambrell. Gambrell wired a one-timer passed Gillies for his 10th goal of the season at the 6:21 mark. That would be the end of Gillies’ night as he was sent to the showers and replaced by Tyler Parsons (6-5-1) after giving up four goals on 17 shots. Calvan Fitzgerald received the secondary assist.

Stockton once again cut the lead in half late in the period, this time on the power play. After a failed clearing attempt by San Jose, Stockton took advantage when Tyler Graovac redirected a Rinet Valiev shot from the point over the left shoulder of Korenar for his 14th goal of the season at the 17:03 mark. Dillon Dube were credited with the secondary assist.

Stockton tilted the ice in the favor in the third period. Spencer Foo threaded a pass to Dube, who beat Korenar under the right arm with a wrist shot into the back of the net for his for his fifth goal of the season at the 9:31 mark.

The Heat tied the game just under two minutes later. A defensive break down left the rookie defenseman Valimaki all alone and he buried his chance past Kornear for his first professional goal of his career at the 11:15 mark.

Korenar stopped 32 of the 36 shots he faced to earn his 16th victory of the season. His is currently 5-0 against Stockton this season. Parsons made 20 saves on 22 shots suffered the tough luck loss in relief duty.

Gambrell gave the Cuda some insurance when he tipped in a shot from the point off the stick of Kyle Wood past Parsons for his second goal of the evening and 11th of the season at the 16:30 mark. Perron received the secondary assist.

GAME NOTES: San Jose was 0/1 on the power play. Stockton was 1/2. The Cuda had killed off 13 penalties in a row before Valiev’s power play goal.

Cuda head coach Roy Sommer earned his 750th career win in the AHL.

San Jose is now 8-1 against Stockton, including 5-0 (and the last seven straight dating back to last year) in the Stockton Arena, this season.

The announced attendance was 4,532.

UP NEXT: The Barracuda take on the Heat on Saturday, February 2nd at 1:15 pm at SAP Center.

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