by Marko Ukalovic
SAN JOSE, Calif- The San Jose Barracuda made a huge statement to start their four-game homestand. A five-goal second period was just one of the highlights in a 9-0 shutout pounding over the Ontario Reign on Wednesday evening at SAP Center. The nine goals matched a franchise record they set earlier this season in a 9-2 win against the same Ontario team back on December 6th, 2019.
San Jose has won two games in a row after dropping their previous four games and they also snapped a four-game losing streak at home. Ontario have lost two games in a row as they ended a five-game road trip.
San Jose (12-18-0-2) drew first blood early in the first period. Jayden Halbgewachs fed a pass back up to the point where a trailing Dylan Gambrell fired a shot wide right. A pinching Trevor Carrick collected the puck off the boards and banked it off Reign goalie Cal Petersen for his sixth goal of the season at the 2:42 mark.
The ‘Cuda came out with a ton of energy in the opening 20 minutes as its forecheck kept Ontario on their heels for the first 13 minutes and ended outshooting their SoCal rival by a 17-9 margin.
San Jose had a huge 5-on-3 penalty kill midway through the opening frame where Ontario had almost a full two minutes on the two-man advantage due to the double minor penalty to Danil Yurtaykin for high sticking.
“It was definitely a momentum changer for sure,” said co-head coach Michael Chiasson of his team’s penalty killing on the night. “I think it was great for our group. I think we had three, four or maybe five big time blocks on that kill. It just shows the guys were committed to the PK tonight and guys were committed to the win.”
The ‘Cuda doubled its lead near the end of the first period when Yurtaykin won a battle along the boards behind the Reign net. Sasha Chmelevski swooped in behind the net and centered a pass out to a wide open Noah Gregor who buried the puck top-shelf to the left side for his fifth goal of the season at the 16:09 mark.
San Jose then tripled its lead 18 seconds later on a play almost exactly similar to Gregor’s goal. Another battle along the boards behind the net led to Manny Weiderer retrieving the puck then skating to the left where he centered the puck to a crashing Alex True. True one-timed it past Petersen for his 10th goal of the season. Jeffery Viel was credited with the secondary assist.
Ontario’s (16-16-3-1) frustration boiled over multiple times in the last five minutes of the period as Chaz Reddekopp and Thomas Gregoire exchanged fisticuffs at the 14:54 mark. There were multiples bouts of pushing and shoving between both teams at the end of the first period. Boko Imama received an unsportsmanlike conduct peanlty after the period expired.
San Jose jumped out to a 4-0 lead on the power play just 57 seconds into the second period. Carrick sent a pass over to Joachim Blichfeld from the point. Blichfeld skated to right faceoff circle snapped a wrist shot past the five-hole of Petersen for his 12th goal of the season.
“We were hoping we were going to get some (offensive) production. It’s good for a lot of guys to get some points, but it’s good for guys to play the right way too,” said Chiasson.
Less than three minutes later after a shot attempt from Lukas Radil on a 2-on-1 rush sailed along the left boards, Carrick threw a shot at the net that was redirected by Blichfeld for his second goal of the game and team-leading 13th of the season at the 3:52 mark.
“I think I had a pretty slow start (to the season). I think when I get more comfortable, I play even better. Just being comfortable is what I think makes me a good hockey player,” said Blichfeld.
The ‘Cuda made it 6-0 with a 4-on-4 goal. Gambrell tossed a pass over to Halbgewachs and he buried a wrist shot past Petersen for his 12th goal of the goal at the 6:06 mark.
The would end the night for Petersen who gave up six goals on 23 shots. He was replaced by backup netminder Matthew Villalta.
Chemelevski joined the scoring party after he collected a turnover inside the Reign defensive zone. He skated in from the left shot and lasered in a shot just inside the post to make it 7-0 at the 15:07 mark.
San Jose scored their fifth goal of the middle frame when Jonny Brodzinski battled for the puck at the top of the right faceoff circle. The puck leaked out to Gambrell and he skated around Brodzinski and snapped home a backhand shot for his first goal as a member of the Barracuda at the 16:25 mark.
“I think it (this result) sends a bit of message that we’re coming together. We’re playing the right way. We gotta keep it going,” said Gambrell.
The ‘Cuda weren’t done with their onslaught to start the third period. Weiderer connected on an outlet pass up to center ice to Viel who skated in on a breakaway and his wrist shot beat Villalta for his fifth goal of the season at the 3:00 mark. It snapped a 13-game goal-less draught for Viel.
‘Cuda goalie Zachary Sawchenko, who made just his second career start, did not have quite the busy night his counterparts did as he stopped all 24 shots he faced for his first career shutout and second win of the season. Villalta made 19 saves on 22 shots in mop up duty.
“I think the biggest thing is when you’re called upon is doing your job,” said Sawchenko discussing his transition from the ECHL to the AHL. “You gotta do your job right? If I gotta face 45 (shots), if I gotta face 24, at the end of the day my job is to stop the puck.”
GAME NOTES: San Jose was 1-for-3 on the power play. Ontario was 0-for-6.
San Jose had nine players with multi-point games.
Gambrell recorded his first career four-point game (1G, 3A). The last ‘Cuda player to record a four-point game was True back on 12/16/18.
The announced attendance was 2,563.
UP NEXT: The Barracuda continue their four-game homestand when they host the Stockton Heat on Saturday 1/11 at 1:15pm at SAP Center.