Photo credit: @sjbarracuda
By Marko Ukalovic
With nothing on the line to play for, San Jose Barracuda head coach Roy Sommer rested the majority of his starters and let a rookie make his professional debut in net. The result was a 3-2 loss to the Colorado Eagles in the season finale on Saturday evening at Budweiser Events Center.
The playoffs are now set as the Cuda will open at home as the second seed against the San Diego Gulls, the number three seed. With the win, the Eagles, combined with the loss of the Tuscon Roadrunners, were able to catapult their way to the fourth and final seed in the Pacific Division in their first season in the AHL. They faceoff against the Pacific Division champion Bakersfield Condors.
Colorado (36-27-4-1) drew first blood in the opening period. Martin Kaut opened up the scoring as he poked the puck over the goal line after Cuda goalie Andrew Shortridge (0-1-0), making his first pro start and debut for San Jose, looked to have secured the initial point shot by David Warsofsky. It was Kaut’s 12th goal of the season at the 14:07 mark.
San Jose (39-22-3-4) outshot Colorado 13-to-11 in the first, but the game would remain at a 1-0 lead for Colorado heading into the first intermission.
In the second period, the Cuda went on their only power-play of the game, but failed to get the equalizer. San Jose generated chance after chance, but Eagles goalie Pavel Francouz (27-17-3) stood his ground and kept San Jose off the scoreboard for the first 40 minutes.
Dominic Toninato doubled the lead for Colorado as he cleaned up a rebound from a shot by Nick Meloce from the right point for his 14th goal of the season at the 4:34 mark of the third period.
The Eagles extended its lead to 3-0 when they were able to keep the puck inside the Cuda
zone after a brilliant glove save by Shortridge on Michael Joly. Logan O Connor fired home a one-timer from along the left-wing for his 19th goal of the season at the 13:22 mark.
San Jose finally got on the scoreboard late in the final period when Matt Fonteyne threaded a pass over to Evan Weinger who was ale tip the puck past Francouz for his 11th goal of the season the 16:15 mark.
The Cuda would pull Shortridge for an extra attacker in the final minutes. Alex True, who led all players in goals during the regular season, jammed in a rebound past Francouz for his 24th goal of the season with just 1.3 seconds remaining in regulation, but it was too little, too late.
Francouz earned the win and snapped a two-game skid by stopping 30 of 32 shots. Shortridge fared well in his first-ever start, stopping 33 of the 36 shots he faced.
GAME NOTES: San Jose was 0/1 on the power play. Colorado was 0/1.
UP NEXT: The Barracuda will open the first round of the playoffs in San Diego on Wednesday, April 17 at 7:00 pm at Pachenga Arena in San Diego.
San Jose Barracuda vs. San Diego Gulls First Round Schedule
Game 1 – Wednesday, April 17 at San Diego at 7 pm
Game 2 – Thursday, April 18 at San Diego at 7 pm
Game 3 – Monday, April 22 at San Jose at 7 pm
Game 4 – Wednesday, April 24 at San Jose at 7 pm (if necessary)
Game 5 – Thursday, April 25 at San Jose at 7pm (if necessary)