Barracuda snap losing skid with 4-3 shootout win over Reign

San Jose Barracuda forward Ozzy Wiseblatt celebrates his first goal in a ‘Cuda uniform against the Ontario Reign at Tech CU Arena on Thursday NOV 10, 2022. (San Jose Barracuda)

by Marko Ukalovic

SAN JOSE — Ozzy Wiseblatt picked as good a time as ever to score his first professional goal.

Wiseblatt’s goal in the third period gave the San Jose Barracuda their first lead of the game as the eventually defeated the Ontario Reign 4-3 in a shootout victory on Thursday evening at Tech CU Arena.

San Jose snapped its five-game winless draught after starting the season 4-0. Ontario has lost two games in a row after winning their previous six.

Wisebatt, the San Jose Sharks 2020 first round pick (31st overall), made his debut with the ‘Cuda after being called up from the Wichita Thunder of the ECHL, where he began the season. Brandon Coe set up Wiseblatt with a quick backhand pass from behind the net and Wiseblatt buried a wrist shot top shelf past Reign goalie Phoenix Copley for his first goal professional goal at the 6:10 mark of the third period.

“I just want to showcase what I can do. I think most importantly I wanted to win the game. I’m thrilled that it happened. I’m pretty happy,” Wiseblatt said.

The goal gave San Jose (5-4-0-1) its first lead of the contest after falling behind two goals to their Socal rival early in the second period.

After a scoreless first period, Ontario (7-2-0-1) jumped out to a 1-0 lead 38 seconds to start the middle frame. Lias Andersson scored his fifth goal of the season from the right wing that beat ‘Cuda goalie Strauss Mann. Jacob Moverare and T.J. Tynan registered assists.

Tyler Madden doubled the lead for the leaders of the Pacific Division at the 3:02 mark. Taylor Ward and Akil Thomas recorded assists on Madden’s second goal of the season.

Jeffery Viel, known as an agitator on the ice, singlehandedly led the comeback for San Jose as he scored the next two goals. His first one came more than halfway through the second period. Viel, who camped himself in front of Copley, redirected a shot from the point by Santeri Hatakka for his first goal of the season at the 12:55 mark.

Early in the third period, Viel intercepted a clearing attempt by Moverare inside the Reign zone. Viel skated in on Copley and deposited a backhander into the back of the net for his second goal of the game.

“I’m glad I scored some goals. I’m trying to get my offense back a little bit. (I’m getting) a little more playing time down here so I guess it feels good,” Viel said.

San Jose had its first big test of adversity of the young season when Adam Raska was given a five-minute major penalty when he hit Quinton Byfield up high with a hit from behind that injured Byfield who was slow to get up off of the ice before skating back to the bench under his own power.

“Aversity is a great teacher,” said ‘Cuda assistant coach Louis Mass on his team’s big penalty kill. “It’s something that glues teams together when you can go through those moments. It’s something where if you get into those situations in the future, you feel like you’re a little more resilient and you can handle that.”

While killing off the major penalty Luke Johnson was sent off for a delay of game penalty as he shot the puck into the stands, giving Ontario a 5-on-3 advantage with 3:39 remaining on Raska’s penalty.

Mann, who was just recalled from Wichita the day before, and the number one penalty killing unit in the AHL, held down the fort killing both penalties as Mann made two big saves during the kill.

The Reign didn’t go down quietly as Ward scored the equalizer from between the faceoff circles with 56 seconds left in the third period with a rebound shot that he roofed over Mann for his third goal of the season.

Mann stopped 32 of the 35 shots he faced in regulation and overtime and then stopped two out of the three shots in the shootout to earn his first win of his professional career. Copley made 18 saves on 21 shots (and was one for three in the shootout) in the losing effort.

“It’s good to get back home and get settled. I know it’s been tough here the past couple of weeks. There’s a great group of guys and it was really nice to have them support me, and they played great in front of me too. I couldn’t have done it without them either,” Mann said.

GAME NOTES: Both teams finished 0-for-4 on the power play.

The Three Stars of the Game were: 1) Viel 2) Ward 3) Wiseblatt

UP NEXT: San Jose continues its homestand when they host the Colorado Eagles for a two-game weekend series on Saturday 11/12 at 6:00pm at Tech CU Arena.

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