Photo credit: @sjbarracuda
By Marko Ukalovic
SAN JOSE, Calif. — The San Jose Barracuda are trying to stay afloat through stormy waters. They put forth a better effort from the other night against Tucson but still ended up on short end of the stick of a 4-1 victory by the Colorado Eagles on Friday evening at the SAP Center.
With the win, Colorado has now won two of their last three games after splitting a two-game series with the Bakersfield Condors last weekend. For San Jose, their woes continue with back-to-back losses and eight out of their last nine games.
Colorado (9-7-0-0) drew first blood in the first period. The Eagles sustained pressure in the ‘Cuda zone as Mark Alt kept the puck in and fed a pass over to Erik Condra. Condra skated near the right slot when he threw a shot on net that was tipped in by Sheldon Dries for his seventh goal of the season at the 6:29 mark.
Despite outshooting the Eagles 11-9 and having some good scoring chances late, the ‘Cuda went into the first intermission down by a goal in a penalty-free opening 20 minutes.
“It’s just tough right now,” said ‘Cuda head coach Roy Sommer. “We make a mistake and it’s in (the back of) our net. That’s kind how things are going for us right now.”
Colorado doubled its lead just 32 seconds to start the third period. Nick Henry centered a pass from the left faceoff circle over to Julien Nantel, who was all alone camped out just to the right of the crease. After his inital shot was saved by ‘Cuda goalie Andrew Shortridge, a Quebec native, put away the rebound chance for fourth goal of the season.
San Jose (5-10-0-1) cut the deficit in half on the power play. From the point, Jeremy Roy fed a pass over to Noah Gregor, who skated in and from the left slot wired a wrist shot that beat Eagles goalie Adam Werner, who was screened on the play by Alex True, for his second goal of the season at the 13:32 mark. Maxim Letunov was credited with the secondary assist.
Gregor’s goal sent the Tank into a frenzy of stuffed animals being thrown onto the ice in the annual Teddy Bear Toss Night the ‘Cuda have put on since moving to Silicon Valley from Worcester, Massachusetts five years ago.
“Yeah, it was cool,” said Gregor when asked how it felt to play Santa Claus for one night. “Teddy bear toss games are fun, fun for the fans. It was nice to get the one goal for myself and see the teddies fly (on to the ice).”
Shots were even at 10-10 in the middle frame. One of them Shortridge could have been charged with grand theft when he made a point blank save on Nantel with just over 11 minutes remaining that helped shift the momentum in San Jose’s favor.
San Jose had a golden opportunity to even the game midway through the third period when both Ty Lewis and Kevin Connauton went to the penalty box 63 seconds apart. However, the ‘Cuda sqaundered the 5-on-3 power play as Colorado killed it off and seized back control of the game.
“The bottom line is the five-on-three we don’t score on,” said Sommer. “That was the game right there. That’s kind of (opportunity) what you wait for and (we) didn’t get it done.”
Colorado iced the game with two empty-net goals with under a minute remaining in the game. First, Jacob McDonald fired a long shot from inside his own defensive zone after winning a battle along the boards for his fifth goal at the 19:16 mark. Then, Michael Joly won a race to a loose puck and put the biscuit in the basket for his fifth goal at the 19:31 mark.
Werner stopped 35 of the 36 shots he faced to earn his sixth win of the season. Shortridge made 23 saves on 25 shots in their losing effort.
GAME NOTES: San Jose was 1/5 on the power play. Colorado was 0/2.
Eagles forward Josh Dickinson left the game with a lower body injury early in the first period.
Fisticuffs! San Jose’s Jacob Middleton and Colorado’s Dan Renouf dropped the gloves in a fight that had two hits, one by Middleton and Renouf hitting the ice after just one punch.
San Jose Sharks forward Barclay Goodrow scored the first ever Teddy Bear Toss goal when he was a member of the ‘Cuda back on November 7th, 2015.
The announced crowd was 3,923.
UP NEXT: The Barracuda conclude their four-game homestand on Saturday, November 23 vs. the Eagles at 1:15 pm at SAP Center.