by Marko Ukalovic
STOCKTON, Calif- It’s not the way the San Jose Barracuda wanted to end the calendar year. The Stockton Heat continued their dominance over their NorCal rival in a 4-0 shutout victory on New Year’s Eve at Stockton Arena.
The Heat have won all six meetings against the Barracuda and currently sit second in the Pacific Division with 43 points. San Jose has lost three in a row and anchor the bottom of the division with 22 points.
Stockton (19-6-2-3) drew first blood just past the halfway mark of the first period. Rob Hamilton sent a home run pass up the ice from his own blue line that sprung Glenn Gawdin for a breakway. Gawdin skated in from left to the right before depositing the puck past Barracuda goalie Josef Korenar for his 11th goal of the season at the 9:41 mark.
The Heat outshot the ‘Cuda 13-9 in the opening 20 minutes as they had the ice tilted in their favor for most of the period.
San Jose (10-17-0-2) had its chance to get back into the game with four straight power plays in the second period. Despite getting plenty of shots on net, Heat goalie Jon Gillies and the Heat penalty kill kept the ‘Cuda off the board. Despite outshooting Stockton 15-2, San Jose found itself trailing 1-0 at the second intermisson.
Stockton put the game away with three goals in the first five minutes of the third period. With San Jose on the power play, Gawdin fed a pass over to Buddy Robinson from the neutral zone. The former ‘Cuda foward skated in and buried the puck past Korenar for a short-handed goal, his 14th of the season 31 seconds into the period.
Austin Czarnik scored his fifth goal of the season at the 4:22 mark. Luke Philp and Byron Froese received assists on the goal.
The Heat completed the scoring when Eetu Tuulola received the puck at the Heat blueline and made a move around Trevor Carrick before firing a wrist shot to the far side past Korenar for his sixth goal of the season at 5:14 mark.
San Jose had three more opportunities on the power play in the final frame but ended up frustrated on the night thanks to work of Gillies.
Gillies stopped all 29 shots he faced for the shutout win, his eighth of the season, and is 4-0 against San Jose this season. Korenar made 22 saves on 26 shots in suffering the loss.
GAME NOTES: San Jose was 0-for-7 on the power play. Stockton was 0-for-3.
- Thomas Gregoire and Dylan Gambrell each put a team-high three shots on net.
- Czarnik extended his goal streak to five games and point streak to six with a goal on Tuesday.
- Robinson’s shorthanded goal was the sixth shorty against for San Jose this season.
- Gawdin picked up a goal and an assist and is now third in the AHL in points with 33.
UP NEXT: The Barracuda continue their three-game roadtrip down to Tucscon to start a two-game weekend series with the Roadrunners on Friday 1/3 at 6:05pm at Tucson Convention Center Arena.