Heat upend Barracuda 4-3 with Valimaki’s OT winner

It takes two to tango the Stockton Heat’s left winger Alex Gallant (20) and the San Jose Barracuda defenseman Montana Onyebuchi (79) mix it up at the Stockton Arena on Sat Mar 5, 2022 (photo by the San Jose Barracuda)

by Marko Ukalovic

Every point is a critical one for the San Jose Barracuda.

They overcame a two-goal deficit in the third period but weren’t able to pick up the second point in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Stockton Heat on Saturday evening at Stockton Heat.

Juuso Valimaki scored 52 seconds in the extra session, his second of the season, to give the Pacific Division leaders their 31st win of the season.

San Jose have lost two out of its past three games. Stockton snapped its two-game losing streak and still only have single digit losses in regulation.

Stockton (31-9-4-1) drew first blood early in the first period. Nick DeSimone made one move around a Barracuda defender before firing a wrist shot at the net that was tipped past ‘Cuda netminder Alexei Melnichuk by Luke Philp for his 17th goal of the season at the 3:50 mark.

The Heat doubled its lead just past the halfway mark of the opening frame. Emilio Pettersen centered a pass from behind the net to Walker Duehr who buried a wrist shot past Melnichuk for his sixth goal of the season at the 10:37 mark.

San Jose (16-28-2-0) were even with Stockton on the shot clock with nine shots but weren’t able to get nothing past Heat netminder Dustin Wolf.

The Barracuda cut the lead in half midway through the second period. Dillon Hamaliuk led an odd man rush into the Heat zone. Hamaliuk found Sasha Chmelevski all alone in front of the crease and the Orange County native beat Wolf with a one-timer for his 10th goal of the season at the 10:04 mark.

Stockton regained their two-goal lead late in the middle frame when a big hit at the ‘Cuda blueline led to a two-on-zero that resulted in Pettersen scored his fifth goal of the season at the 17:03 mark.

San Jose scored two goals in the third period to force overtime.

Artemi Kniazev made a backdoor centering pass to a wide open Hamaliuk and he buried a one-timer past Wolf for his second goal of the game.

It was Hamaliuk’s first multi-point game of his AHL career.

The Barracuda scored the equalizer on a three-on-one rush after a turnover by Stockton in their own zone. John Leonard skated in a wired a wrist shot past Wolf for his 13th goal of the season at the 14:15 mark.

Wolf finished the evening stopping 28 of the 31 shots he faced to earn the victory. Melnichuk made 34 saves on 38 shots in the losing effort.

GAME NOTES: Both teams did not have a power play opportunity as neither team drew a penalty during the game.

The Three Stars of the Game were: 1) Valimaki 2) Pettersen 3) Philp

UP NEXT: San Jose returns home to host the Tucson Roadrunners on Sunday 3/6 at 5:00pm at SAP Center.

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