by Marko Ukalovic
TUCSON, Ariz- A drama filled game that went back and forth ended with a big relief for the San Jose Barracuda as Jayden Halbgewachs scored with 28 seconds left in overtime to propell his team to a 5-4 victory over the Tucson Roadrunners on Saturday evening at Tucson Convention Center Arena.
Halbgewachs’ second goal of the game came when he was able to grab hold of the puck at the near post and lift a backhander from point blank range into the back of net for his 11th goal of the season.
Two streaks came to an end. San Jose’s four-game losing streak and Tucson’s two-game winning streak. The ‘Cuda are now 2-3 against the Roadrunners, who suffered its first overtime year of the season, this season. It was San Jose’s first win in Tucson since March 21, 2018.
Tucson (25-7-1-0) drew first blood early in the first period. A turnover by Keaton Middleton led to a centering pass from Michael Bunting over to Hudson Fasching who fired a one-timer past ‘Cuda goalie Zachary Sawchenko, who made his first career AHL start, for his 13th goal of the season at the 4:12 mark.
The Roadrunners doubled their lead when Beau Bennent made a back door feed to a wide open Jordan Gross who pounded the puck past Sawchenko for his sixth goal of the season at the 10:51 mark. The Roadrunner defenseman has scored in back-to-back games against the ‘Cuda.
San Jose (11-18-0-2) cut the deficit in half less than 30 second later. Ivan Chekhovich sent a back door feed over to Manny Weiderer and he buried a wrist shot past Roadrunners goalie Ivan Prosvetov for his first goal of the season at the 11:20 mark.
The ‘Cuda scored the equalizder on the power play less than two minutes later. After a faceoff win by Dylan Gambrell led to possession by Maxim Letunov. Letunov made a move to get Prosvetov out of position and he fed a pass over to Jonny Brodzinski who shoveled the puck into an empty net for his seventh goal of the season at the 13:13 mark.
San Jose grabbed their first lead when they scored its third unanswered goal of the period. Halbgewachs sent a wrist shot that took a weird bounce and skitted under the arm of Prosvetov for his first goal and 10th goal of the season at the 17:32 mark. Brodzinski and Nick Meloche received helpers on the goal.
Despite outshooting San Jose 14-9 in the opening frame, Tucson found themselves down by one goal at the first intermission.
The second period didn’t have any goals scored but featured both teams wasting a 5-on-3 power play opportunity. Tucson outshot San Jose 10-5 in the middle frame.
Tucson scored the equalizer when Gross scored his second of the game early in the third period. Gross sent a in a low shot from long distance that sneaked inside the left post for his seventh goal of the season at 3:12 mark.
Prosvetov was pulled before the third period began for an unknown reason. Brandon Halverson replaced Prosvetov to finish off the rest of the game.
San Jose looked to have scored the game winning goal with 1:45 left in the third period when Trevor Carrick sent a pass over to Maxim Letunov at the left faceoff circle and he fired a wrist shot top-shelf out of the reach of Halverson for his eighth goal of the season at the 18:15 mark. Letunov finished the night with a three-point game (1G, 2A).
The Roadrunners pulled Halverson for an extra attacker, a shot from Bunting was saved by Sawchenko. However the rebound was cleaned up by Bennent during a mad scramble as he tapped home the puck past a sprawling Sawchenko with 14 seconds remaining in the period. It was Bennent’s sixth goal of the season.
It was quite the first start in net for Sawchenko as he stopped 37 shots on 41 shots, including a great glove save on Lane Pederson in overtime on a 2-on-1 break, for his first professional win. Halverson made 10 saves on 12 shots in 23:36 minutes of action.
GAME NOTES: San Jose 1-for-4 on the power play. Tucson was 0-for-6.
‘Cuda forward Evan Weinger returned the lineup after being a healthy scratch the last game.
The game’s start was delayed by 28 minutes while the maintainence crew needed to make repairs to the glass along the ice.
UP NEXT: The Barracuda host the Ontario Reign on Wednesday 1/8 at 7:00pm at SAP Center.