Heat first period outburst buries Barracuda 4-1

San Jose Barracuda and Stockton Heat matched up at the SAP Center in San Jose on Wed Nov 3, 2021 (photo from the San Jose Barracuda)

by Marko Ukalovic

SAN JOSE—There’s a heatwave happening in the Central Valley. And it has nothing to do with the weather.

The Stockton Heat scored three goals is the first period en route to a 4-1 victory over the San Jose Barracuda on Wednesday evening at SAP Center.

San Jose is 2-2-0 in its past four games. Stockton have won five games in a row and still haven’t lost in regulation.

Stockton (5-0-1-0) drew first blood four minutes into the first period. A turnover by the Barracuda inside their own zone led to Adam Ruzicka all alone on ‘Cuda goalie Alexei Melnichuk. Ruzicka made one move before lifting a backhander past Melnichuk for his fifth goal of the season at the 4:04 mark. Jacob Pelletier was credited with an assist.

Pelletier now has eight points (2G, 6A) in fives game for Stockton to begin his rookie season.

Stockton doubled its lead just under two minutes later. Glenn Gawdin skated around Adam Parsells and sent a pass through the crease over to Luke Philip who tapped home the puck into an empty net for his third goal of the season at the 5:54 mark.

The Heat scored their goal of the period on the power play. Andy Welinski sent a pass from the point over to the right faceoff circle to Martin Pospisil who sent a wrist shot on net. Ruzicka, who was camped out in front of the crease, redirected the puck past Melnichuk for his second goal of the game and sixth of the season at the 11:13 mark.

San Jose (2-2-1-0) weren’t able to generate much offense as they were busy killing off penalties in the entire second half of the period. Their best chance to get on the scoreboard was on a short-handed odd man rush where Kyle Topping’s shot was saved by Heat goalie Dustin Wolf.

Stockton out shot San Jose 14-6 in the opening 20 minutes.

It’s been a tough few days for ‘Cuda head coach Roy Sommer. The game in Stockton was canceled due to two San Jose players and their goalie coach that tested positive for Covid-19 on Sunday afternoon. That had left the team with only 12 players available to play.

There was no time for the recent callup from Orlando to get any practice time before tonight’s game.

“That’s probably the best team in the division and we were a little shorthanded on the back,” said Sommer. “And the guys (who just got here) haven’t had (a chance to) practice yet. They just got off the plane today. So that made a big difference.”

The Heat extended its lead with their second power play goal of the game midway through the second period. Ruzicka sent in a wrist shot on Melnichuk that was initially stopped but Pospisil cleaned up the rebound with a backhand shot for his second goal of the season at the 8:12 mark.

San Jose finally got on the board late in the middle frame. Cole Moberg sent a shot on net from the right end line. The puck ricochet off Wolf into the middle as Scott Reedy crashed in and put the puck into the back of the net for his third goal of the season at the 12:57 mark.

“Just not a real good hockey game (from us). (We) didn’t come out of our end real clean. Turned some pucks over in the neutral zone and didn’t have any (offensive) zone time,” Sommer said.

A scoreless third period featured lots of chippiness between the two teams that have no love lost for one another. Multiple scrums with pushing and shoving ensued throughout the final 20 minutes.

Wolf finished the game with 22 shots on 24 shots to earn the victory. Melnichuk stopped 24 of the 28 shots he faced in the losing effort.

GAME NOTES: San Jose finished 0-for-4 on the power play. Stockton went 2-for-5.

‘Cuda forward Timur Ibragimov was injured in the third period with an apparent lower body injury when he was tripped up inside the Heat zone. He was not able to finish the game.

This was the first meeting between the two clubs since March 10, 2020, marking a 603 day gap between games.

The Barracuda are 34-20-2, including 18-11-1-0 at home, all time against the Heat.

Forward Noah Gregor remained on the Covid-19 protocol list. Goalie Zachary Sawchenko was released from the list.

San Jose recalled goalie Zachary Emond, defenseman Montana Onyebuchi and forwards Jake McGrew and Kyle Topping from the ECHL’s Solar Bears on Monday.

UP NEXT: San Jose host the Texas Stars on Saturday 11/6 at 1:15pm at SAP Center.

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