Game of inches this photo shows how the Colorado Eagles force San Jose Barracuda goaltender Alexi Melnichuk (1) to cover up at the exact time of a shot. The Eagles edged the Barracuda in a one goal win at SAP Center in San Jose on Fri Oct 29, 2021 (photo from San Jose Barracuda)
by Marko Ukalovic
SAN JOSE—Kiefer Sherwood is doing his best in becoming the next ‘Cuda killer.
His game winning goal with 22 seconds left in overtime gave the Colorado Eagles a 5-4 over the San Jose Barracuda on Friday evening at SAP Center.
Dylan Sikura, who was a ‘Cuda killer last year with Henderson, fed Sherwood with a pass into the Barracuda zone. Sherwood skated in and fired a wrist shot past ‘Cuda goalie Alexei Melnichuk for his second goal of the night.
San Jose had its two game winning streak snapped. Colorado won their first game of the season after being winless in their first five games.
San Jose (2-1-1-0) drew first blood under four minutes into the first period. Nick Merkley sent in a shot from the point that Evan Weinger was able to drop pass back to Noah Gregor. The ‘Cuda left winger skated in the middle and deposited a wrist shot past Eagles goalie Justus Annunen for his second goal of the season at the 3:52 mark.
The Barracuda doubled its lead less than three minutes later when Timur Ibragimov started a counter attack. Ibragimov fed a pass out to Scott Reedy who sent a rink wide pass over to Nicolas Meloche. The second year defenseman fired a wrist shot from the right point just inside the left post into the back of the net for his first goal of the season at the 6:27 mark.
Colorado (1-4-0-1) cut San Jose’s lead in half on the power play midway though the opening frame. Sikura sent a rink wide pass from the right faceoff circle over to Sherwood. The Eagles right winger buried a one-timer past Melnichuk for his first goal of the game at the 11:51 mark.
Sherwood has three goals in four games against San Jose. He leads the Eagles with six goals.
The Eagles scored the equalizer midway through the second period. After John Leonard was stopped on a breakaway attempt, Justin Barron led a counter attack for Colorado. Alex Beaucage found Gabriel Fountaine along the point and the Eagles left winger blasted a slap shot past Melnichuk for his first goal of the season at the 8:40 mark.
The Barracuda had a tough time generating any quality scoring chances in the middle frame as they were busy having to kill minor penalties for the majority of the period as they made three trips to the sin bin. They were out shot 12-8 by Colorado.
“As soon as we’d get going five on five, we’d take a penalty,” Barracuda head coach Roy Sommer said.
San Jose regained the lead on the power play in the third period. Joachim Blichfeld sent a shot on goal from the left slot that deflected off the leg of Reedy, who was camped out in front of the crease. John Leonard cleaned up the rebound depositing the puck into an open net for his second goal of the season at the 7:16 mark.
Once again Colorado was able to even the score. On a delayed penalty call, Sikura circled around from behind the net and found a streaking Jordan Gross in the right slot and he buried a one-timer past Melnichuk for his first goal of the season at the 10:25 mark.
The Barracuda went up by a goal late in the period as they scored their second power play goal of the game. Nick Cicek sent a pass down to Sasha Chmelevski from the right point. Chmelevski found Nick Merkley open in the slot and Merkley snapped home a one-timer past Annunen for his second goal of the season at the 16:32 mark.
Colorado didn’t go away quietly as they scored eight seconds later to tie the game for a third time. Off the ensuing faceoff, Defenseman Ronald McKeown sent a slapshot from center ice that took a favorable bounce off the boards over to Mikhail Maltsev who sent in a quick wrist shot from the left faceoff circle top shelf into the left corner of the net for his second goal of the season.
“Right off the next shift. They throw it around…it was a bad play on our part. We should’ve just stayed in the net. He (Melnichuk) came out and it kinda took our mojo away but we had chances on the four on three (power play in overtime), but not that outcome I wanted,” Sommer said.
Annunen finished the night stopping 26 of 30 shots he faced to earn his first victory of the season. Melnichuk made 31 saves on 35 shots in the losing effort.
GAME NOTES: San Jose was 2-for-5 on the power play. Colorado went 1-for-6.
UP NEXT: San Jose travel up to Stockton to take on the Heat on Sunday 10/31 at 5:00pm.