Photo credit: @sjbarracuda
By Marko Ukalovic
SAN JOSE, Calif. — The San Jose Barracuda are becoming a broken record. Get off to a fast start, but allow the opposition to come back. This bad habit once again reared its ugly head as the Bakersfield Condors scored the final two goals of the game en route to a 4-3 victory on Friday evening at SAP Center.
San Jose had their two-game winning streak snapped. With the victory, Bakersfield also snapped their four-game losing streak.
Condors forward Cooper Marody scored what proved to be the game winning goal at the 7:33 mark of the third period when William Lagesson centered a pass over to Marody, who was camped out in front of the crease. After a battle with ‘Cuda goalie Josef Korenar, Marody took possession of the puck and slammed it home for his fourth goal of the season.
San Jose (7-10-0-1) drew first blood at the end of the first period. Lean Bergmann fed a pass over to Sasha Chmelevski then showed off his skating skills coming down the right wing and into the crease where his backhander sneaked past a confused Condors goalie Stuart Skinner for his second goal of the season at the 17:11 mark. Thomas Gregoire received the secondary assist.
“I feel like I’m a different player since my injury,” said Chmelevski. “I feel like I’ve been playing with confidence, been playing hard and just want to contribute to the team anyway I can.”
Bakersfield (7-9-2-1) had a golden opportunity to break through earlier when they have a 5-on-3 power play for 1:41 of ice time when Nick DeSimone went off for a delay of game penalty. Maxim Letunov was already in the sinbin for interference 19 seconds earlier.
However, thanks to some key saves by Korenar and some luck from his best friend in the goal post, San Jose killed off both power plays gaining momentum off the kill.
San Jose dominated play in the opening 20 minutes, outshooting Bakersfield 13-6.
The ‘Cuda doubled their lead on the power play less than five minutes into the second period. Jonny Brodzinski fired a shot behind the net where Joel Kellman received the puck. After a bit of a delay, he banked the puck off Skinner for his second goal of the season at the 4:27 mark. The goal snapped a 15 game goalless drought for the Swedish forward.
It didn’t take the Condors to cut the lead in half. Kirill Maksimov fed a pass over to the Dmitri Samorukov at the right point. The Russian defenseman skated into the slot and wired a quick wrist shot beating Korenar to the short side in the lower right corner for his first professional goal of his career just 27 seconds later at the 4:54 mark.
“It went south was right when we make it 2-0 and they scored on their next shift to make it 2-1,” said Barracuda head coach Roy Sommer. “Then with 50 seconds left in the second period, they win the draw and the puck bounces over our head and goes in the net, 2-2.
Just when it looked like the San Jose was going to head into the second intermission with a lead, an innocent looking wrist shot from the point by Evan Bouchard hit off the arm of Korenar and floated up in the air behind him where Ryan McLeod cashed in the rebound for his third goal of the season with 50 seconds left in the middle frame.
“You work for your breaks and I thought the compete was there but I don’t know how many pucks we turned over through the neutral zone…at least 15 where we could have had it in behind him and maybe created something and that’s something we’ve got to look at,” said Sommer.
The ‘Cuda regained the lead in the opening minutes of the third period when Letunov had control of the puck near the right board. He made some nifty puck-handling moves around two Condors defenders before firing a shot on net that was initially saved by Skinner. The puck jumped out to Evan Weinger just to the left of the crease and he tapped home his sixth goal of the season at the 1:57 mark.
However, as we have seen of late, San Jose once again weren’t able to hold on to their lead and close out the game. Just under two minutes later Brad Malone centered a pass out in to the left faceoff circle where Lagesson’s shot was stopped by Korenar, but couldn’t control the rebound. Lagesson was able to get the puck back on his stick and fired it past Korenar, who was out of position, for the equalizer, his second goal of the season, at the 3:28 mark.
“We had a great first period, we got the lead,” said Kellman. “We’re up 2-0 and then something happened when they scored the first goal, I don’t know what, it was 2-2. Our second period was not that good but I don’t think we got the momentum back in the third. We got up 3-2 and then I don’t know what happened.”
Skinner finished the evening 34 saves on 37 shots to earn his seventh victory of the season. Korenar allowed four goals on 31 shots in the losing effort.
GAME NOTES: San Jose was 1/4 on the power play. Bakersfield was 0/3.
FISTICUFFS! Jeffery Viel and Joe Gambardella squared off in a spirited fight 63 seconds into the third period. Each player successfully landed haymakers on one another.
Letunov extended his points streak to six games with the assist on Weinger’s goal.
San Jose is now 6-6-0-0 on home ice. They lead the all-time series against Bakersfield 25-17-2-4.
Three stars of the game:
UP NEXT: The Barracuda travel down to Ontario for a weekend series with the Reign starting on Friday, December 7 at 7:00 pm at Toyota Arena.