San Jose Barracuda suffer a tough home ice loss at SAP Center in San Jose to cross state rival the Ontario Reign on Wed Jan 26, 2022 (image from San Jose Barracuda)
by Marko Ukalovic
SAN JOSE — The coffee was still percolating when the opening faceoff was dropped.
The Ontario Reign made the most out of a 10:00am start as they defeated the San Jose Barracuda 4-1 on Wednesday morning at SAP Center.
The early start was due in part to the first ‘Cuda Classroom Day promotion of the season despite no kids being allowed to attend due to the ongoing Covid protocols in Santa Clara County.
San Jose have lost four of its past five games. Ontario is 7-0-1-1 in its past nine games.
Ontario (21-6-3-2) drew first blood early into the first period. Marcus Phillips picked a perfect time to send a wrist shot through a sea of traffic in front ‘Cuda goalie Sam Harvey. Phillips’ shot sneaked into the back of the net for his first goal of the season at the 2:12 mark.
It was Phillips first goal in 26 games and his first point in 22 games.
San Jose (14-20-1-0) answered back over two minutes later. Jayden Halbgewachs sent a pass back up to the point over to Patrick Holway. The rookie defenseman sent a wrist shot that hit off the top off the net and then off of the back of Reign goalie Lukas Parik for his second goal of the season at the 4:23 mark.
“I was actually pretty surprised that it went in,” said Holway. I think Hobbsy (Halbgewachs) yell at me to shoot it and I shot it. It’s not how you draw it up, but you take what you can get. I guess I had some luck with me today”
The Reign regained the lead scoring on its first power play opportunity. T.J. Tynan set up Gabriel Vilardi in the slot and Vilardi blasted a one-timer past Harvey for his eighth goal of the season at the 7:12 mark.
Tynan, who leads the Reign in points and is second in the AHL, has 19 assists on the power play in just 26 games.
San Jose outshot Ontario 14-12 in the opening 20 minutes.
The second period was scoreless despite the Barracuda peppering 19 shots on goal against Parik. The Reign killed off a late penalty in the middle frame when Brayden Burke was called for tripping at the 15:36 mark.
“Honestly I thought we played pretty good,” said ‘Cuda head coach Roy Sommer. “We out chanced them I believe 24-20 for the (whole) game, which we haven’t had that many chances in a while. So, we generated some offense, we just didn’t have any finish.”
Ontario scored an insurance goal late in the third period. Christian Wolanin sent a home run pass up to center ice to Austin Wagner from his own zone. Wagner raced in from the left sideline and beat Harvey with a backhand shot for his seventh goal of the season at the 13:24 mark.
“They’re (Ontario) so explosive. You give them a little bit of space and they’re going to make you pay like on that last goal,” Sommer said.
Martin Frk scored an empty netter with 1:37 remaining in the game to seal the deal for Ontario.
Parik had a stellar game stopping 39 of the 40 shots he faced to earn the victory. Harvey made 28 saves on 31 shots in the losing effort.
GAME NOTES: San Jose finished 0-for-2 on the power play. Ontario was 1-for-2.
The Three Stars of the Game were: 1) Vilardi 2) Phillps 3) Holway
UP NEXT: San Jose and Ontario conclude its two-game series on Thursday 1/27 at 7:00pm at SAP Center.