Photo credit: @sjbarracuda
By Marko Ukalovic
When you are the hottest team in the AHL, you continue to find ways to win and the red-hot Bakersfield Condors scored three unanswered goals in the second period to come back and defeat the San Jose Barracuda 3-1 on Friday evening at the Rabobank Arena.
The Condors have won 11 games in a row while San Jose have lost their last two games in regulation. It was also Bakersfield’s first win in regulation against San Jose this season. Bakersfield closed within one point of San Jose for first place in the Pacific Division.
San Jose (26-10-2-4) drew first blood in the first period moments after their first power play opportunity expired. Nick DeSimone was able to keep in a failed clearing attempt by the Condors. He found Rourke Chartier in the slot, who drew a double team and sent over a pass over to a wide-open Anti Suomela, who banked the puck off the post into the back of the net past Condors goalie Shane Starrett (15-3-3) for his third goal with the Cuda at the 8:51 mark.
San Jose had the ice tilted in their favor in the opening frame as they outshot Bakersfield 12-8.
Bakersfield (27-15-2-1) came out determined to start and eventually dominate the second period as they gained the equalizer from Joe Gambardella in the opening minute. Ryan Spooner fed a cross-ice pass over to Gambardella, who back-handed the puck past Cuda goalie Josef Korenar (16-5-1) for his 22nd goal of the season at the 1:17 mark. Keegan Lowe received the secondary assist.
The Cuda had a golden opportunity to regain the lead when Josh Currie turned the puck over at the Cuda blue line. Francis Perron led a two-on-none break with Jacob Middleton. However, one too many passes led to Perron getting a weak shot on goal that Starrett was able to make the save.
Cuda killer Currie burned San Jose for the 18th time in his career against San Jose to give the Condors their first lead. His initial shot on goal was blocked, but regained his own rebound and fired a shot over the left shoulder of Korenar for his 20th goal of the season at the 9:11 mark. Currie’s first goal in three games was assisted by Cooper Marody and William Legesson.
Bakersfield closed out the middle frame with their third unanswered goal of the game. A failed clearing attempt was grabbed by Marody, who passed it over to Currie, who fired a shot on net, but Korenar wasn’t able to control the puck and Tyler Benson cleaned up the rebound for his seventh goal of the season at the 13:23 mark.
In the third period, San Jose had back to back opportunities on the power play, but weren’t able to cash in and cut into the lead. They also hit three posts during the game.
Starrett made 27 saves on 28 saves to earn his 15th win of the season. Korenar stopped 22 of the 25 pucks he faced in suffering the tough luck loss and has lost back-to-back games for the first time in his career.
GAME NOTES: San Jose was 0/5 on the power play. Bakersfield was 0/4.
San Jose’s penalty is currently fifth best in the AHL at 84.1% and fourth best on the road at 84.9%.
The announced attendance was 5,111.
UP NEXT: The Barracuda head down to Ontario on Sunday, 2/10 to take on the Reign at 1:00 pm at the Citizens Business Bank Arena.