by Marko Ukalovic
ONTARIO, Calif- The San Jose Barracuda did a complete 180 less than 24 hours after a disappointing outing in San Diego. They used an offensive attack in where they scored three unanswered goals en route to a 5-2 victory over the Ontario Reign on Sunday afternoon at Budwiser Events Center.
San Jose split its SoCal roadtrip with a 1-1 record. They now have won three out of their last four games. Ontario have lost two in a row after wining three games in a row.
Ontario (26-20-5-1) drew first blood with under five minutes remaining in the first period. Tobias Bjornfot sent a long outlet pass to Blaine Byron who waited for a trailing Matt Luff. The Reign right-winger then blasted a shot from the beyond the faceoff circles past ‘Cuda goalie Zachary Sawchenko for his ninth goal of the season at the 15:46 mark.
San Jose (17-26-3-2) responded with the equalizer on the power play under three minutes later. Jeremy Roy picked up a rebound off a Sasha Chmelevski shot. Roy skated around the net and found an open Jayden Halbgewachs who despoisted the puck into an empty net for his team leading 16th goal of the season at the 18:24 mark.
The Barracuda dominated the second period with two goals to take a commanding 3-1 lead as they out shot the Reign 11-6.
Lukas Radil led a rush up the ice where he fed a cross ice pass over to Maxim Letunov. The Russian winger skated in a wired a wrist shot top-shelf to the right corner past Reign goalie Matt Villalta for his 12th goal of the season at the 1:16 mark of the middle frame.
Then Nikolai Knyzhov scored his first career professional goal in what turned out to be the game winning goal. Danil Yurtaykin out battled Lance Bouma along the boards before finding a trailing Knyzhov. The rookie defenseman skated in and sniped in a wrist shot from the point past Villalta at the 15:47 mark.
Ontario cut the ‘Cuda lead to one goal on the power play early in the third period. Byron fed a pass out Bjornfot at the point. Bjornfot fired a slap shot past Sawchenko, with the help of a Jaret Anderson-Dolan screen, for his fifth goal of the season at the 3:51 mark.
That would be as close as Ontario would get as San Jose scored two goals at the end of the period to seal the deal.
Chmelevski poked checked the puck away from Bouma out to Lean Bergmann from behind the net. Bergmann skated out to the right faceoff circle and snapped home a wrist shot past Villalta for his eighth goal of the season at the 17:25 mark.
Ontario pulled Villalta for an extra attacker and Halbgewachs fed an outlet pass to Jeffery Viel who scored an empty net goal from the Reign blue line for his 12th goal of the year 19 seconds later to complete the scoring.
Sawchenko (5-4-1) made 31 saves on 33 shots to earn his second-consecutive victory and fifth of the season. Villalta (8-5-2) took the loss after allowing four goals on 29 shots.
GAME NOTES: San Jose was 1/3 on the power play. Ontario was 1/5.
Viel extended his goal streak to three games and has four in that span.
Bergmann has scored three goals in his last five games.
Chmelevski with his pair of assists, recorded his sixth multi-point effort of the season.
The announced attendance was 7,961.
UP NEXT: The Barracuda return home to begin a six-game homestand as they host the Ontario Reign on Wednesday 2/26 at 7:00pm at SAP Center.