The Bakersfield Condors in a comeback game avoided defeat winning their sixth straight game at Mechanics Bank in Bakersfield edging the San Jose Barracuda 4-3 (photo from Bakersfield Condors)
by Marko Ukalovic
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Bakersfield has become a house of horrors for the San Jose Barracuda.
The Condors scored four unanswered goals to overcome a two-goal deficit in a 4-3 victory over their Pacific Division rival on Saturday evening at Mechanics Bank Arena.
San Jose has three games in a row and have lost their last eight games in Bakersfield. The third place Condors have won six games in a row and have points in 11 straight games.
Neither was able to find the back of the net in the first period. Each team had a power play opportunity, but neither capitalized on their chance.
Bakersfield out shot San Jose 14-11 in the opening 20 minutes.
The Barracuda (13-19-1-0) broke the seal early in the second period. Nick Merkley found a trailing John Leonard open in the slot. Leonard one-timed a wrist shot top shelf just underneath the cross bar for his sixth goal of the season at the 2:02 mark.
San Jose doubled its lead just over four minutes later. Patrick Holway skated in from the left wing and sent a shot on net that was initially saved by Condors goalie Olivier Rodrigue. Joachim Blichfeld cleaned up the rebound for his 13th goal of the season at the 6:32 mark.
Bakersfield (14-8-3-3) cut the Barracuda lead in half just passed the halfway mark of the middle frame. Dylan Holloway threaded the needle with a pass between two San Jose defenders that sprung James Hamblin on a breakaway. Hamblin’s backhander beat ‘Cuda goalie Alexei Melnichuk for his ninth goal of the season at the 11:41 mark.
Hamblin has been on fire of late with his fourth goal in three games for Bakersfield.
The Condors evened the score early in the third period thanks to two lucky bounces. Devin Brousseau collected the puck after bounced over the stick of Holway. Brousseau’s centering pass caromed off the leg of Merkley past Melnichuk for his fourth goal of the season at the 5:30 mark.
Bakersfield gained its first lead just over a minute later. Brousseau centered a pass from behind the net out to Vincent Desharnais who one-timed a wrist shot past Melnichuk for his fourth goal of the season at the 6:35 mark.
Desharnais has five points during his four-game point steak.
The Condors scored an insurance goal on the power play near the halfway mark of the final frame. Philip Broberg fed a pass over to Adam Cranknell and the veteran Condor rifled a slap shot past Melnichuk to the short side for his ninth goal of the season at the 9:03 mark.
San Jose scored a power play goal with 1:45 remaining in the final frame when Leonard scored his second goal of the game. Artemi Kniazev found Leonard open in the right faceoff circle and he buried a wrist shot for his seventh goal of the season.
It was Leonard’s first multi-goal game of his AHL career.
Rodrigue finished the game stopping 31 of the 34 shots he faced in earning the victory. Melnichuk made 42 saves on 46 shots in the losing effort.
GAME NOTES: San Jose finished 1-for-4 on the power play. Bakersfield was 1-for-3.
Krystof Hrabik was suspended 30 games by the AHL for making a racial gesture towards Tucson Roadrunners forward Boko Imama during the teams’ January 12th game in San Jose. Hrabik was immediately removed from all team activities.
UP NEXT: San Jose and Bakersfield battle it out on Sunday 1/23 at 5:00pm at SAP Center.