Barracuda drop Game 1 of conference finals to Grand Rapids 3-1; Cuda could never play catch up trailed all game photo: The San Jose Barracuda’s Dan O’Regan is on his backside as the Grand Rapid Griffiths take the Barracuda out of their game winning game one 3-1 at SAP Center on Saturday night

By: Eric He

SAN JOSE–The San Jose Barracuda marched into uncharted territory on Saturday night, playing their first game in the conference finals in franchise history — but they’ve now surrendered home ice advantage after falling 3-1 to Grand Rapids.

The Barracuda played from behind all game. They managed just one fewer shot than the Griffins, but were 0-for-6 on the power play, failing to capitalize on chances to close the gap.

They dug themselves a two-goal hole early. Mitch Callahan lit the lamp first for Grand Rapids less than seven minutes into the game, finishing off a pass from Eric Tangradi. Three minutes later, Ben Street converted the Griffins’ second goal on a jam play in front.

San Jose closed a 2-0 gap 41 seconds later courtesy of Kevin Labanc, but that would be the only Barracuda shot to find the back of the net.

Following a scoreless second period, Grand Rapids went back up by two goals midway through the third, when Kyle Criscuolo deflected in a shot by Street.

If the Barracuda want to advance to the Calder Cup, they’ll first have to reclaim home ice advantage, and that starts with a win on Sunday in Game 2 with a  5:00PM face off at SAP Center.

Sonny Gray finally finds his way to a win, and perhaps more

By: Eric He

OAKLAND – The slumping A’s could definitely use some sunshine these days, and they may have their sun back in Sonny Gray.

The 27-year-old righty recorded his first win of the 2017 season on Thursday night in the A’s 8-3 win over the Red Sox at the Coliseum, and he showed flashes of his former self, striking out eight batters in six innings. He threw 103 pitches, allowing four hits and three runs, two of which came in the first inning.

Gray retired 16 of his last 18 batters, and gave up just one hit after the first inning — a fourth inning home run by Mitch Moreland. But it was one of just a few blemishes in a much-needed resurgent start.

“Sonny was absolutely outstanding,” catcher Stephen Vogt said. “He looked as good as I’ve seen him in a very, very long time. Had all four pitches working. Really put the ball where he wanted to, when he wanted to do. Had that swing and miss slider tonight that we all know he has. It was very refreshing to see that.”

Everything about Gray’s evening had to be refreshing for the A’s, who have seen their ace go MIA since 2015. Last season, injuries hampered Gray, who made just 22 starts, going 5-11 with a 5.69 ERA, more than 2.5 runs higher than his previous career high.

The disappointment continued into 2017, when Gray began the season on the disabled list with a lat strain. After making two rehab starts, he went winless in his first three appearances with the A’s, and entered Thursday facing a Boston team that was the lone American League team he had yet to beat in his career.

But on Thursday, the sun shone. The Sonny we love might be coming through, at long last.

He wasn’t Clayton Kershaw, but his mojo was back. Save for early first inning struggles, Gray was stellar against a strong Red Sox team that usually pummels A’s pitching and has beaten the A’s nine of the last 10 matchups. Gray had batters whiffing on his sinkers, fastballs, curveballs and changeups.

“It didn’t matter,” Vogt said.

Vogt, who has caught Gray since the pitcher’s rookie season in 2013, knows that when Gray is on, he’s making batters swing at air.

“When he’s punching people out, that’s when you know Sonny is Sonny,” Vogt said. “He’s an ace, and aces punch people out. That’s what he did tonight.”

Gray struck out six of the last 10 batters he faced, and prided himself on it after the game.

“My last start I struggled putting guys away,” he said. “That’s really been a focus for a while now. I feel like my stuff is getting better. My stuff is the best it’s been in … I can’t remember when.”

We haven’t seen this Sonny Gray in a couple of years, though manager Bob Melvin doesn’t think Gray has ever changed.

“Everyone’s going to have a tough year,” Melvin said on Gray’s 2016 campaign. “There were injuries involved in it. But the stuff is always there, and he’s quite the competitor. I don’t fall into that and say he’s not who he is anymore. One year is not going to get me off who I think he is.”

Melvin added that Gray is the “kind of starter who wants to factor in and get a decision,” and that Gray would be happy with getting the win on Thursday.

He was right. It was Gray’s first in nearly 10 months, but it’s not like he was counting.

“I don’t know how long it’s been,” Gray said. “As a pitcher, you want to win games. You want to start a game that you can let the team win. That’s the most important thing as a pitcher — is to win. It’s nice to get a win for sure. Hopefully I can put together some good starts from here.”

Barracuda advance to Western Conference Finals: Grosenick stops all 34 Gulls shots in 2-0 shutout photo: The San Jose Barracuda advance on Saturday night with a 2-0 shutout over the San Diego Gulls at Valley View Arena in San Diego in game five of the AHL Calder Cup Playoffs

By: Eric He

The San Jose Barracuda will continue their chase for the Calder Cup after defeating the San Diego Gulls 2-0 in Game 5 to close out the series four games to one and advance to the Western Conference Finals.

San Jose will face Grand Rapids in the next round.

It is the first conference finals appearance in the history of the franchise, and a significant accomplishment for long-tenured head coach Roy Sommer.

The Barracuda were able to weather an aggressive start by the Gulls and jump out to a 1-0 lead after one period courtesy of Barclay Goodrow, who opened the scoring for the second straight game. Taking a feed from Jacob Middleton on the rush, Goodrow netted his fourth goal of the postseason and a big one for San Jose.

Despite strong chances for San Diego on the power play to open the second period, it was the Barracuda who struck on the man advantage to double their lead. Six minutes into the second, Adam Helewka found paydirt on a rebound in front to give San Jose a 2-0 lead.

It was a lead they would hold on to for the remainder of the game as the Barracuda blanked the Gulls, who were facing elimination. Troy Grosenick fended off all 34 shots he faced and stood tall in the third period as he and the penalty kill didn’t let anything in on a five-minute major penalty. In all, the Barracuda were 3-for-3 on the penalty kill.

Shots were 35-34 in favor of San Diego, but the Barracuda were outshot 10-6 in the third. But they defended well enough and scored just enough to record the win, and move on to the next round.

Game 1 of the conference finals against Grand Rapids will be next Saturday at SAP Center.

Kings blow 28-point lead in road loss to Spurs 114-104 Sac drops their sixth straight loss

Sacramento Kings center Kosta Koufos (41) tries to strip the ball from San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili (20) during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, March 8, 2017, in San Antonio. The Spurs won 114-104. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

By: Eric He

The Kings were rolling, up 38-15 after one quarter, jumping out to a 28-point lead over a Spurs team that didn’t have Kawhi Leonard.

But the Spurs roared back, with Manu Ginobli’s 19 points leading the way. David Lee added 18 points and Patty Mills had 17, with the Spurs’ usual depth pitching in for an incredible win. The Spurs won 114-104 on Wednesday night.

San Antonio crept within 15 points at halftime and single digits late in the third. The Spurs trailed 86-82 heading into the fourth quarter and tied the game at 88-88 on a David Lee layup with 9:36 to play in the fourth. They took the lead and didn’t look back in a quarter in which they outscored the Kings 32-18.

“They just picked up their physicality,” Darren Collison told reporters. “They got us off our spots. It was hard for us to have the same continuity we had in the first half. You’ve got to give them credit, that’s what they’re known for.”

Tyreke Evans led the Kings with 26 points. Skal Labissiere added 15 points and Kosta Koufus had 12.


The Kings have now lost six straight games. They begin a three-game homestand on Friday against the Wizards.

Kings drop fifth straight with road loss to Nuggets 108-96

Denver forward Wilson Chandler, back, brings the ball up the court as Kings center Willie Cauley-Stein drops back to defend in the first half on Monday, March 6, 2017, in Denver. David Zalubowski The Associated Press

By: Eric He

As the Sacramento Kings adjust to life without DeMarcus Cousins, they’re finding quickly that it includes more losses. Sacramento suffered its fifth straight defeat on Monday in a 108-96 loss to the Denver Nuggets. The Nuggets with the win now move into a four game lead over the Kings for the last and final spot for the playoffs in the Western Conference, “At this point, everybody’s on the same page,” center Willie Cauley-Stein told the Sacramento Bee on Monday night. “We’re trying to win. We’re trying to get to the eighth spot just for the story. It’s going to help guys’ whole outcome of their game if we can continue to make strides and win.”

Wilson Chandler scored a career-high 36 points to pace the Nuggets, shooting 13-of-23 from the field and grabbing 12 rebounds as well. Chandler got off to a hot start with a 16-point first quarter to help Denver end its five-game losing skid. “It’s the toughest thing in the world,” Kings guard Ty Lawson said. “To come here on a back-to-back, especially. Mile high, your legs are heavy. My legs were heavy before the game, so it’s tough. We’ve just got to keep working.”

The Nuggets pulled away in the third quarter when they outscored the Kings 33-23. Denver led 90-73 after three, and was up by as many as 21 points early in the fourth. The Kings were able to cut into the lead as Denver struggled shooting the ball, pulling with nine points late in the game.

Still, Denver, fighting for a playoff spot, pulled off the win.

The Kings had seven players finish in double figures, with Darren Collison’s 17 points leading the way. Kosta Koufus added 14 points and Buddy Hield had 14 off the bench.

Sacramento’s quest to end its losing streak won’t come easy; the Kings play the Spurs on the road on Wednesday.

San Jose Barracuda Saturday game wrap: Barracuda fall to Stockton 4-2; After winning 14 straight Cuda lose second straight game photo: San Jose Barracuda defenceman Julius Bergman (63) watches the puck wiz behind him as the Stockton Heat’s center Daniel Pribyl (47) watches and San Jose goaltender Mantas Armalis (33) protects the net at Stockton Arena on Saturday night

By: Eric He

Three days after seeing their incredible win streak come to an end, the San Jose Barracuda (33-12-1-4)  also saw their road winning streak end at 10 games following a 4-2 loss to Stockton Heat (23-23-4-1), 4-2  on the road on Saturday at Stockton Arena.

Trailing 2-1 entering the third period, the Barracuda allowed two more Stockton goals that wrapped up the game. Austin Carroll took advantage of a turnover by the Barracuda less than six minutes into the period, and then Mark Jankowski sealed matters with an empty-net goal that put the Heat ahead 4-1.

San Jose got on the board first on a re-direction by John McCarthy off a shot by Tim Heed. But Stockton answered on the power play, courtesy of Matt Frattin.

Andrew Mangiapane gave the Heat the lead midway through the second period, a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.

The Barracuda went 0-for-6 on the power play in the loss, and couldn’t score enough despite outshooting Stockton 45-21. They return home to face the Gulls on Sunday.

Timo Meier nets OT winner to push Barracuda’s win streak to 14 games photo: San Jose Barracuda forward John McCarthy (17) battles for the puck with Tucson Roadrunner center Laurent Dauphin (15) in front of Cuda goalie Tony Grosenick  (1) Saturday night in Tucson

By: Eric He

The San Jose Barracuda (32-11-1-3) stretched their win-streak to a franchise-record 14 games on Saturday with a 4-3 win over the Tucson Roadrunners (22-20-5-0)  that needed overtime.

Timo Meier fired home a slot from the slot less than two minutes into overtime to give the Barracuda another win to add to the astounding streak.

The Barracuda led 2-1 going into the third, but the Roadrunners scored twice to open the period to take the lead. After Kyle Wood tied the game on a power play goal early in the third, Laurent Dauphin scored with less than three minutes left in regulation to give Tucscon the lead and put the Barracuda’s win streak in jeopardy.

But Nikolay Goldobin managed to equalize late to force overtime.

After a scoreless first period, there were three goals in the second period. Mitch Moroz opened the scoring with a wraparound goal for Tucson. But San Jose scored twice to take the lead after two, both goals coming courtesy of Marcus Sorensen. First, he scored a power play goal at 4:10 to tie the game at 1-1. Then, he finished a shorthanded odd-man rush later in the period to give the Barracuda their first lead.

The Barracuda will now return home to face the San Diego Gulls on March 5th as they look to extend their win-streak to 15 games.

Barracuda claim 13th straight win with third period comeback in Tucson 4-3 photo: The San Jose Barracuda did some high wire balancing to maintain their consecutive win streak on Friday night in Tucson against the Roadrunners they’ll try it again tonight in Tucson

By: Eric He

The San Jose Barracuda rallied in the third period to beat the Tucson Roadrunners on the road on Friday to push their franchise-record win streak to 13 games.

In their 4-3 win, the Barracuda received third period goals from Rourke Chartier and Marcus Sorensen to pull off the victory. Chartier evened the score at 3-3 less than five minutes into the period on a shorthanded goal, and Sorensen delivered the eventual game-winner midway through the third on a hard shot from the right faceoff circle.

The two unanswered goals came after Tucson had scored to take the lead early in the period. Christian Fischer snuck in on a breakaway to give the Roadrunners a 3-2 lead.

The game was tied 2-2 entering the third, but the Barracuda didn’t trail until Fischer’s goal. Buddy Robinson led off the scoring with a goal 6:28 into the game, though the Roadrunners tied it up with 10 seconds left in the first period on a shorthanded goal.

Scoring in the second was almost a mirror image of the first; Nikita Jevpalovs fired a puck in from the slot to give the Barracuda a 2-1 advantage, only to have Tucson even the score with 1.7 left in the period. It was Laurent Dauphin, who had also scored to end the first.

The Barracuda, though, prevailed in the end. Troy Grosenick won his 11th straight game, making 21 saves in the winning effort. San Jose has also won nine road games in a row, and will look to make it 10 straight road wins – and 14 overall – on Saturday when it faces Tucson again.

1. Marcus Sorensen (SJ: 1+0=1)
2. Christian Fischer (TUC: 1+2=3)
3. Laurent Dauphin (TUC: 1+0=1)

San Jose Barracuda Saturday game wrap: Barracuda win 11th straight with shutout of Reign 2-0 photo: The San Jose Barracuda faced off against the Ontario Reign to extend their winning streak to 11 games on Saturday night

By: Eric He

ONTARIO–The San Jose Barracuda stretched their win streak to 11 games on Saturday with a 2-0 shutout over the Ontario Reign on the road.

Goaltender Troy Grosenick recorded 20 saves in the win while Adam Helewka and John McCarthy scored the only goals of the game, all for San Jose.

Helewak scored on a break in the first period, taking a pass from Buddy Robinson and pulling a forehand-to-backhand deke on the Reign goaltender to give the Barracuda a 1-0 lead.

Despite being outshot 13-4 in the second period, the Barracuda were able to double their lead, courtesy of McCarthy. The forward deflected a shot by Joakim Ryan into the net midway through the period to put San Jose ahead 2-0.

It could have been a 3-0 lead for the Barracuda entering the third, but Patrick McNally’s goal was called off due to goaltender interference.

They wouldn’t need it, though, as San Jose outshot Ontario 17-2 in the third – and 31-20 overall – to finish off the win.

Grosenick recorded his AHL-leading seventh shutout of the season, while the Barracuda kept rolling with their eighth straight road win and 11th consecutive victory overall.

San Jose will look to make it 12 in a row on Monday at home against Texas.

Barracuda win 10th straight, fend off Stockton 5-4

sjbarracuda photo: San Jose Barracuda’s Dan O’Regan camps out in front of the Stockton Heat’s net on Friday night in Stockton

By: Eric He

The San Jose Barracuda can’t seem to stop winning these days. They defeated the Stockton Heat 5-4 at home on Friday for their franchise-record 10th straight win.

The Barracuda took a 3-0 lead after one period and held off a comeback attempt by the Heat. They let Stockton tie the game in the second period, with the lead cut to 3-2, 4-3 and eventually even 4-4.

Rasmus Andersson and Mark Jankowski scored early in the period for Stockton to the cut the lead to 3-2. Timo Meier responded to double the Barracuda lead, only to have the Heat respond with two goals to tie the game. But Joakim Ryan gave San Jose the lead back heading into the third with a crucial goal, a hard shot from the point past the goaltender.

San Jose held on to the one-goal lead in the third, as goaltender Mantas Armalis made nine saves to earn his second straight win. The Barracuda scored twice on the power play despite being outshot 30-26.

The Barracuda will look to make it eight straight road wins and 11 consecutive victories overall on Saturday when they play the Reign in Ontario.