by Marko Ukalovic
SAN JOSE — Joachim Blichfeld helped the San Jose Barracuda save face and his head coach reach a new milestone
Blichfeld scored the eventual game winning goal late in the third period as the ‘Cuda responded after giving up a three-goal lead in the third period in a 6-3 victory over the Henderson Silver Knights on Saturday evening at SAP Center.
For San Jose head coach Roy Sommer, it was his 800th win of his AHL career. He already holds the record for most wins by a coach in the history of the league.
“I’m glad it’s over with,” Sommer said with relief after the game. “A lot of wins, a lot of years it took to get it. (Doing it) with the same organization, I guess it makes it that much sweeter.”
San Jose snapped its two-game losing streak. Henderson had its four-game winning streak end with the loss.
Cole Moberg found Blichfeld in the left slot and the Danish native sniped home a wrist shot past Silver Knights goalie Dylan Ferguson for his 11th goal of the season with 5:40 remaining in the third period to give San Jose a 4-3 lead.
“We talked before the faceoff and I said I was pulling back and he (Molberg) found me. I was really wide open, and I just went for it and luckily it went in,” Blichfeld said.
San Jose (12-15-1-0) drew first blood in the first period. Joachim Blichfeld put a backhander wide of the net. The puck caromed off the back boards back in front the crease where Sasha Chmelevski cashed in a point-blank shot past Ferguson for his sixth goal of the season at the 12:13 mark.
A scary moment happened earlier in the opening frame. Henderson forward Colt Conrad slammed headfirst into the end boards while chasing after a loose puck. Conrad hobbled off the ice with blood rushing from his leg into the Zamboni area before being attended to medically. He left the area on a stretcher and did not return to the game.
Henderson (15-8-2-1) outshot San Jose 8-7 in the first period but headed into the first intermission trailing by a goal as ‘Cuda goalie Alexei Melnichuk played a perfect period.
San Jose doubled its lead on the power play early in the second period. John Leonard fired a shot on net that Krystof Hrabik wasn’t able to put in the rebound. Chmelevski crashed in while Ferguson was down on his back and slipped the puck into the net for his second goal of the game and seventh of the season at the 4:03 mark.
Silver Knights center Pavel Dorofeyev was unlucky when he rang a wrist shot off the cross bar late in the middle frame off a two-on-one short-handed opportunity.
The Barracuda scored its third unanswered goal a minute into the third period. Leonard led an odd man attack and from along the left boards found Jake McGrew in between the face off circles. McGrew wired a wrist shot past Ferguson to the short side for his fourth goal of the season at the 1:05 mark.
Henderson did not go down quietly as they scored two goals in a 54 second span. Jonas Rondbjerg wired a wrist shot from the left slot that beat Melnichuk for his seventh goal of the season at the 4:42 mark.
Then Adam Brooks centered a pass from behind the net out to an open Sven Bartschi who buried a one-timer past Melnichuk for his fifth goal of the season at the 5:36 mark.
The Silver Knights scored the equalizer when Ben Jones made a backhand centering pass from behind the net and Reid Duke slammed home a one-timer past Melnichuk for his first goal of the season at the 11:56 mark.
Overlooked at the end was Chmelevski completing his first career AHL hattrick when he scored an empty net goal, his eighth of the season, at the 17:45 mark after Henderson pulled Ferguson for an extra attacker.
“Obviously I think we’ll (Sommer and I) both remember it,” Chmelevski said. “It feels good. I’m most proud of how the team responded after they tied it up. That’s not easy to give up a three-goal lead like that. But we responded the right way. That’s what counts.”
Mark Alt completed the game’s scoring with his own empty netter, his second of the season, from deep inside the ‘Cuda zone with 1:35 remaining in the game to seal the victory.
Melnichuk finished the game stopping 28 of the 31 shots he faced to earn the victory. Ferguson made 26 saves on 30 shots in the losing effort.
GAME NOTES: San Jose finished 1-for-4 on the power play. Henderson was 0-for-3.
The Three Stars of the Game were: 1) Chmelevski 2) Leonard 3) Blichfeld
The San Jose Sharks have informed Evander Kane that he has been placed on unconditional waivers with intent to terminate his contract for breach of his NHL Standard Player Contract and for violation of the AHL COVID-19 protocols. The Club will have no further comment on this matter.
The Barracuda are now 3-6-1-0 lifetime against the Golden Knights’ top affiliate, with all three wins coming in San Jose.
UP NEXT: San Jose continue their four-game homestand on Wednesday 1/12 as they host the Tucson Roadrunners at 7:00pm at SAP Center.