photo from sjbarracuda.com
By Marko Ukalovic
SAN JOSE, Calif. — When teams are on a losing skid, coaches will take away some of their luxuries like a post-game meal to motivate their teams to perform better.
This media outlet doesn’t know if head coach Roy Sommer actually did such a thing, but whatever method he used, the San Jose Barrucuda put on an offensive explosion to route the Pacific Divsion leading Tucson Roadrunners 7-1 on Sunday evening at SAP Center.
Maybe it was the specialy jerseys San Jose wore on its “408 Night”, that featured a waffle eating contest between San Jose natives Joey Chestnut and Matt Stonie during one of the intermissions. The win snapped a six-game losing streak, the longest in franchise history, and ended Tucson’s five-game winning streak and four-game road winning streak.
San Jose (5-8-0-1) drew first blood a little over half way through the first period when Keaton Middleton sent a pass behind the net to Jayden Halbgewachs. Halbgewachs quickly sent a no-look backhand pass out to John McCarthy who was camped out in front of the crease. The ‘Cuda captain wristed a shot just inside the left corner past Roadrunners goalie Adin Hill for his second goal of the season at the 11:10 mark.
The ‘Cuda doubled their lead three and a half minutes later when Jeffery Viel was able to get his body in front of a clearing attempt along the right boards by Hill. Viel then skated toward the back of the net where he centered a pass right out to Anti Suomela who buried the puck past the stick side of Hill for his fourth goal of the season at the 14:50 mark.
“Tonight (we played) 60 minutes,” said Sommer. “You know it’s amazing when you do that. I thought at our end we stopped (the opposition’s chances), we came out as five. I think that was the biggest thing tonight.”
The beginning and the end of the second period belonged to Joachim Blichfeld who scored the next two goals, both on the power play for the Barracuda. Just over a minute into the second period Blichfeld was at the right place at the right time when he tipped home a shot from Thomas Gregoire from the left point for his fifth goal of the season on the evening at the 14:50 mark.
Then with under a minute left in the middle frame, Noah Gregor, who was back playing in his first game since being reassigned from the San Jose Sharks, collected his own rebound from a tough angle shot. He then fed the puck to an open Blichfeld whose wrist shot trickled in off the glove of Hill for his sixth goal of the season for his team leading sixth goal of the season. Blichfeld finished with a three-point night (2G, A), the first of his career.
San Jose blew it open in the third period with three more goals and seven unanswered. Maxim Letunov centered a pass from the left board out in front of scrum that caromed off Blichfeld and right to the stick of Lean Bergmann who snapped a wrist shot past Hill for his fourth goal of the season at the 2:24 mark.
The Cuda went up 6-0 just over two minutes later when Halbgewachs won a battle along the boards among three Roadrunner defenders. He sent the puck over to Suomela who centered a pass over to a streaking Trevor Carrick, who skated in from the point, and he fired a wrist shot past Hill for his second goal of the season at the 4:32 mark.
San Jose’s final goal was a reward after some relentless play from Gregor. His initial shot and rebound chance were stopped by Hill. Alex True’s attempt was also stoned away by Hill but he wasn’t able to control the rebound that skidded out to the left of the crease where Evan Weinger found it and shot it in for his third goal of the season at the 14:35 mark.
Tucscon (11-4-0-0) spoiled the shutout bid for ‘Cuda goalie Josef Korenar when they scored their lone tally with under five minutes remaining in the game thanks to a nice pass from Jon Martin over to a wide open Hudson Fasching who skated in all alone, and made a forehand to backhand move to slide the puck past Korenar for his third goal of season at the 15:05 mark.
“They (Tucson) will be ready Wednesday night. They just had an off night. It happens. We had one a couple of nights ago in San Diego. It will be a different game on Wednesday”, said Sommer.
Korenar finished the game stopping 22 of the 23 shots he faced to earn his fourth victory of the season. Hill suffered the defeat, ending a five-game winning streak, making 26 saves on 33 shots.
GAME NOTES: San Jose was 2/5 on the power play. Tucson went 0/5.
Gregor collected a pair of helpers in his first game in the AHL since October 13. The two assists were a career-high for the rookie forward.
Four Barracuda players had multiple points, led by Maxim Letunov who had a career-high three assists.
Three stars of the game:
The announced attendance was 4,041.
UP NEXT: The Barracuda host the Roadrunners on Wednesday, November 19 at 7:00 pm at SAP Center.