by Marko Ukalovic
DES MOINES, Iowa- A seasaw battle between the San Jose Barracuda and the Iowa Wild ended in a thrilling 4-3 overtime win for the Wild on Saturday evening at Wells Fargo Arena.
Louie Belpedio scored the game winner with one minute left in the overtime session as the Wild split their two game weekend series with the ‘Cuda.
The loss snapped the two-game winning streak for San Jose. Iowa evened their record to 3-3 against the Pacific Divison this season.
San Jose (14-20-0-2) jumped out to a early lead just 62 seconds into the first period while killing a penalty. A backhand pass by the Wild was knocked away by Nick DeSimone. Dylan Gambrell made a touch pass over to Evan Weigner and he outraced two Wild defenders before depositing a backhand shot through the 5-hole of Wild goalie Mat Robson for a short-handed goal, his seventh goal of the season.
The ‘Cuda doubled their lead midway through the opening frame when Lukas Radil led a 3-on-2 rush into the Wild zone. He fed a pass to the right over to Noah Gregor who quickly made a touch pass back over to the left to a wide open Gambrell who tipped the puck past Robson for his third goal of the season at the 9:24 mark.
Iowa (22-14-3-2) cut the deficit in half near the end of the period. Belpedio won a faceoff draw back to the Dmitry Sokolov who made a move toward the net and fired a wrist shot past ‘Cuda goalie Zachary Sawchenko for the first of his two goals on the night at the 16:32 mark.
The Wild scored the equalizer in the first five minutes of the second period. Luke Johnson sent a cross-ice pass over to a open Will Bitten whose shot was initially saved by Sawchenko. However the rebound trickled out to Kyle Rau and he slammed it home for his ninth goal of the season at the 4:23 mark.
Iowa gained its first lead of the game with under three minutes left in the middle frame. Belpedio found Sokolov open at the top of the right faceoff circle and he blasted a one-timer past Sawchenko for his second goal of the game and 11th of the season at the 17:17 mark.
Just when it looked like Iowa had the game locked up while on the power play with under two minutes remaining in the third period San Jose striked for the equalizer. Noah Gregor led a rush up the ice along with Jonny Brodzinki. Jonny on the spot then fed it to a trailing Jacob Middleton who buried a wrist shot the far side of Robson for his first goal of the season at the 18:25 mark.
His first goal of the season could not have come at a better time for San Jose as it snapped a 34 game goalless drought for the ‘Cuda defenseman.
Robson (8-7-4) stopped 23 of the 26 shots he faced to earn his eighth win of the season. Sawchenko had a good night in goal, despite suffering the loss, as he made 37 saves on 41 shots.
GAME NOTES: San Jose was 0-for-2 on the power play. Iowa was 1-for-5
Weinger netted his team-leading second shorthanded goal of year.
Gambrell recorded his third multi-point game (one goal, one assist) over his last six games.
Saturday was the third time in franchise history in which the Barracuda scored two shorthanded goals in a game and the first since 3/26/17 at Tucson.
The announced attendance was 10,928.
UP NEXT: The Barracuda continue their roadtrip in Bakersfield to take on the Condors on Wednesday 1/22 at 6:30pm at Mechanics Bank Arena.