by Marko Ukalovic
STOCKTON, Calif- Better late than never has never applied more to the San Jose Barracuda when it comes to the Stockton Heat. The ‘Cuda used a four-goal second period outburst to take control of the game to defeat their NorCal rival 7-4 on Tuesday evening at Stockton Arena.
San Jose finally snapped their nine-game losing streak against Stockton this season, while extendeing their point streak to six games. San Jose is now 1-7-1-1 against Stockton. The Heat currently sit in third place in the Pacific Division with 68 points.
Stockton (30-17-4-4) drew first blood 46 seconds into the first period. Heat captain Byron Froese fired a shot on net that ‘Cuda goalie Josef Korenar saved but couldn’t control the rebound. Buddy Robinson crashed in and cleaned up the rebound for his 17th goal of the season. He is second in goals for the Heat.
San Jose (21-27-5-2) scored the eqaulizer just under five minutes later. Maxim Letunov led a rush up the ice. He fed a pass over to Danil Yurtaykin who then found Lukas Radil and the Czech forward completed a tic-tac-toe goal with a wrist shot that beat Heat goalie Jon Gillies for his fifth of the season at the 5:30 mark. It snapped an eight-game goal-less draught.
Stockton regained the lead on the power play late in the opening frame. The Heat only needed nine seconds to light the lamp when Martin Pospisil jammed home a loose puck that Korenar struggled to keep from going past the goaline. Glen Gawdin and and Adam Ruzicka were credited with assists on Pospisil’s third goal of the season at the 19:18 mark.
San Jose tied it up for a second time early in the second period in what began a span of three-unanswered goals for the ‘Cuda. Keaton Middleton received a pass from Sasha Chmelevski and skated into the Heat zone. The ‘Cuda defenseman snapped home a wrist shot past Gillies on the shortside for his fourth goal of the season at the 2:03 mark. Radil picked up the secondary assist.
The Barracuda gained their first lead of the night when Danil Yurtaykin fired a shot past Gillies just over two minutes later. The rookie forward scored his second goal of the season at the 4:35 mark. It was his first goal since November 13, 2019, ending a 29 game skid.
Before the Heat could even blink after Yutaykin’s goal, Tristan Langan set up Ivan Chekhovich who buried a wrist shot past Gillies for his fourth goal of the season at the 5:10 mark. For Langan his helper was his first point in the AHL.
That ended the evening for Gillies who was replaced by backup netminder Artyom Zagidulin. Gillies finished the night giving up four goals on 12 shots in 25:10 of action.
Stockton stopped the bleeding over two minutes later when Rob Hamilton sent in a shot on the net where Robinson, was once again at the right place at the right time, tapped home another rebound for second goal of the game and 18th of the season to cut the lead to one-goal at the 7:24 mark.
San Jose regained a two-goal lead when Jeffery Viel led a rush up the ice. He fed a pass over to Anthony Greco who found a trailing Jonny Brodzinski with a drop pass. Brodzinski fired a wrist shot past Zagiudukin, who was screened on the play by his own defenseman, for his 14th goal of the season for the red-hot foward at the 12:09 mark.
The Heat pressed back just 31 second later as they closed out the scoring in a wild middle frame. Korenar failed to clear the puck from his crease as his attempt went right on the stick of Froese and he scored into an empty net for his 19th goal of the season. Alexander Yelesin and Hamilton were credited with assists.
The Barracuda dominated the second period as they out shot the Heat by a 2-to-1 margin 14-7.
San Jose wrapped up the game with two goals in a span of 13 seconds late in the third period. First Yurtaykin fed a pass over to Radil who skated down the left wing and buried a wrist shot to the far side past Zagidulin for his second goal of the night and sixth of the season at the 16:09 mark.
Then Jayden Halbgewachs scored his team leading 19th goal at the 16:22 mark to ice the game for the Barracuda. Chmelevski and Middleton picked up the helpers on the play.
Korenar played an outstanding game making 22 saves on 26 shots to earn his 12th win of the season. Zagidulin stopped 16 of the 19 shots in suffering the loss.
GAME NOTES: San Jose went 0-for-3 on the power play. Stockton was 1-for-3. The Heat came into the game with the league number one power play at 25.5%.
Six different skaters scored goals for the ‘Cuda.
Radil’s two goals were his first multi-goal game of his career.
Yutaykin with his 1G, 2A finished with his first ever three-point game in his career.
Ruzicka now has one goal and three assists in four games against San Jose this season.
The announced attendance was 1,639.
UP NEXT: The Barracuda continue their three-game roadtrip when the travel down to San Diego to take on the Gulls on Friday 3/13 at 7:00pm at Pachenga Arena.