sjbarracuda.com photo: The score says it all as the Barracuda lose another one on home ice on Sunday night to the Bakersfield Condors 7-5
by Marko Ukalovic
SAN JOSE, Calif- The Bakersfield Condors jumped out to a big lead and then hung on for dear life at the end in a 7-5 victory over the San Jose Barracuda on Sunday evening at SAP Center.
Bakersfield have won two games in a row and increased their cushion over San Jose to six points as they currently sit fifth in the Pacific Divison with 28 points. The ‘Cuda have lost two in a row and went 0-2 on this weekend’s homestand.
The Condors (12-13-3-1) jumped out early scoring two goals, two minutes apart in the first six minutes of the games. Colby Cave had possession of the puck near the blue line when he made two nifty moves around two Barracuda forwards and snapped a wrist from the middle of the faceoff circles shot past ‘Cuda goalie Andrew Shortridge for his sixth goal of the season at the 4:03 mark. Luke Esposito, who screened Shortridge on the shot, received the only assist.
Bakersfield doubled their lead on the power play at the 6:07 mark when Joel Persson centered a pass over to Brad Malone at the left slot. Malone turned around and fired a shot that pinballed off a two Barracuda defenders in front and into the back of the net for his sixth goal of the season. Ryan McLeod received the secondary assist.
San Jose (10-16-0-2) cut the decifit to one when Dylan Gambrell won a race to the puck behind the goal-line. He made a drop pass back to a trailing Jayden Halbgewachs, who buried home a one-timer past Condors goalie Stuart Skinner for his ninth goal of the season at the 8:34 mark.
Just when the ‘Cuda had the momentum on their side during a power play with under five minutes left, Nick DeSimone turned the puck over in his own zone to Esposito, who skated in a sent a wrist shot past the 5-hole of Shortridge for an unassisted short-handed goal. Esposito’s fourth goal of the season came at the 16:02 mark.
Bakersfield scored three goals on only six shots in the opening 20 minutes. San Jose registered only five shots on goal.
The Condors took control of the game early in the second period as they scored two goals in the first six minutes to jump out to a 5-1 lead. ‘Cuda killer Josh Currie lead a 3-on-2 rush into San Jose’s zone and he cleaned up the rebound off a Cooper Marody shot for his team leading 13th goal of the season at the 3:31 mark.
Then just over two minutes later Dmitri Samorukov sent a long pass up to center ice where Joe Gambardella quickly passed it over to Miles Koules at the ‘Cuda blue line. Koules skated in and snapped a wrist shot top-shelf into the upper left corner for his first goal of the season at the 5:39 mark.
That ended the night for Shortridge who gave up five goals on just 10 shots. Josef Korenar replaced him in between the pipes.
San Jose came back with two goals of their own in a wild middle frame that saw five goals scored in it. Sasha Chmelevski was a man possessed as he kept pressure inside the Condors zone. After a shot by Lean Bergmann went behind the net, Chmelevski skated around and threw the puck out in front where it banked off a Condors’ defender skate into the net for the Southern California native’s fifth goal of the season at the 9:00 mark.
The ‘Cuda cut the lead to 5-3 on the power play late in the second period. Chmelevski centered a pass over to Noah Gregor from the right boards. Gregor made two strides forward before launching a wrist shot top-shelf past Skinner for his third goal of the season at the 17:47 mark.
Bakersfield regained the momentum and their three-goal lead less than two minutes later when Cave led a 3-on-1 rush up the ice. A pretty give-and-go between Currie and Evan Bouchard led to Bouchard scoring his fouth goal of the season with 41 seconds left in the period.
San Jose didn’t go down quietly in the third period as they scored next two goals to make the game close. Halfway through the final frame, Jonny Brodzinski lit up the red light when he scored his sixth goal of the season at the 10:39 mark. Alex True and Jeffery Viel received assists on the goal.
The ‘Cuda once again made it a one-goal deficit on the power play. Maxim Letunov carried the puck into the Condors zone and made a nice backhand pass to the right point over to DeSimone. The ‘Cuda defenseman snapped a wrist shot toward the net where Gregor deflected it home past Skinner for his fourth goal of the season at the 18:41 mark.
That would be as close as their comeback attempt would get as Tyler Benson fed a pass up to Malone who skated in all the way to the net before tapping it home for an empty net goal, his seventh goal of the season with 36 seconds left in the game.
Skinner made 34 saves on 39 shots to earn his ninth victory of the season. Korenar suffered the tough luck loss as he stopped six of the seven shots he faced in mop-up duty.
GAME NOTES: San Jose was 2-for-4 on the power play. Bakersfield was 1-for-4.
Brodzinski’s two-point night snapped a five-game scoreless streak for the forward.
Gregor’s two goals were the first points he scored since being reassigned back down to the Barracuda.
The announced attendance was 4,227 in the fourth annual Pucks and Paws Night. Fans were able to bring their dogs to the game for $5.
UP NEXT: The Barracuda end the calendar year traveling up to Stockton on Tuesday 12/31 to take on the Heat at 5:00pm at Stockton Arena.