Photo credit: @sjbarracuda
By Marko Ukalovic
SAN JOSE, Calif. — When you have been off for 13 days, a little rust is expected in your first game back.
The San Jose Barracuda gave up the game’s first three goals, but ended up scoring the final six in a 6-3 victory over the Ontario Reign on Saturday evening at Solar4America Ice.
San Jose had five consecutive games postponed due to a combination of inclement weather and COVID-19 protocols. This was their first game played since February 13th.
In the first period, the ‘Cuda had a tough time shaking off the rust as the Reign scored three goals in a three-minute span to take a commanding 3-0 lead.
First Aidan Dudas scored his second goal of the season at the 8:34 mark. Cameron Gaunce received the only assist on Dudas’ goal.
Quinton Byfield set up Mikey Eyssimont down low and Eyssimont slid the puck past ‘Cuda goalie Josef Korenar for his first goal of the season at the 10:28 mark.
Just over a minute later, Blaine Byron scored a power play goal for Ontario (1-7-1-0) when he tipped in a shot from Blyfield past Korenar for his third goal of the season at the 11:39 mark.
Ontario dominated the opening 20 minutes, outshooting San Jose 14-4.
San Jose (2-2-1-0) began its comeback near the halfway mark of the second period. Kurtis Gabriel centered a pass over to a wide-open Fredrik Handemark and buried home the puck into an open net for the first of his two goals of his AHL career at the 8:33 mark.
The ‘Cuda scored the next three goals in a two-minute span that had the Reign on their heels for the final five minutes of the middle frame.
Joel Kellman finished off a two-on-one odd man rush with a wrist shot that beat Reign goalie Matthew Villalta for an unassisted goal, his first of the season at the 15:32 mark.
After a clean faceoff win, Nick DeSimone fired a slap shot from the right point that Joachim Blichfeld was able to redirect past Villalta for his team leading fourth goal of the game at the 17:02 mark.
30 seconds later, Gabriel completed his “Gordie Howe hat trick” when he skated in from behind the Reign net and tucked home the puck inside the right post for his first goal of the season at the 17:32 mark.
Gabriel, who assisted on Handemark’s goal, also had a spirited fight with Ontario’s Jacob Doty back in the first period.
Reign head coach John Wroblewski pulled Villalta from the game and replaced him with J.F. Berube to start the third period.
San Jose capped off the scoring with two short-handed, empty-net goals at the end of the third period when Ontario pulled Berube for an extra attacker. Antti Suomela scored art the 18:03 mark and Handemark scored his second of the night at the 18:39 mark.
Kornear, who made his season debut, stopped 33 of the 36 shots he faced to earn his first win of the season. Villalta made 13 saves on 17 shots suffered the loss. Berube stopped all 13 shots he faced.
GAME NOTES: San Jose was 0-for-3 on the power play. Ontario was 1-for-6.
Suomela extended his point streak to four games (1G, 3A).
Kellman had his fifth multi-point game of his AHL career.
Gabriel and Jeffery Viel put a team-best nine shots on net.
Blichfeld also extended his point streak to four games (4G, 3A).
San Jose’s four-goal second was the most goals scored in a period this season.
UP NEXT: San Jose and Ontario square off again on Sunday 2/28 at 5:00 pm at Solar4America Ice.