photo from: sjbarracuda.com
By Marko Ukalovic
SAN JOSE, Calif. — It doesn’t matter what time of the day the San Jose Barracuda take the ice to play a game. For the second straight game, they dominated and shutout their opponent in a 5-0 victory over the defending Pacific Division champion Bakersfield Condors on Wednesday morning at SAP Center.
The early start time of 11:00 am was due to the annual Cuda Classroom Day where students from the area’s elementary and middle schools were among the 3,648 spectators inside the arena.
The game featured the first game back for Radim Simek, the San Jose Sharks defenseman who suffered an ACL injury to his knee back on March 12. The Sharks sent him down to the Cuda for an rehab assignment to get him into game shape before he joins the parent club.
“I felt great on the ice,” said the Czech native Simek. “The first period was harder for me. It was eight months without (playing) hockey for me. The second and third period was better and we got a big win.”
San Jose (4-3-0-0) jumped out to a 1-0 lead late in the first period with the man advantage. Jayden Halbgewachs sent a pass along the left boards over to Joel Kellman. Kellman found a wide open Joachim Blichfeld in between the circles and he sent a quick wrist shot past Condors goalie Dylan Wells into the lower right corner of the net for his first goal of the season at the 18:49 mark.
“Great play by Blichy (Blichfeld) to start it off on the power play,” said Cuda head coach Roy Sommer. “Which is starting to click a little bit. It’s starting to finally find some traction.”
Alex True found himself in the right place at the right time as he doubled the ‘Cuda lead just halfway past the second period. Kellman cleared the puck out of the zone just as the penalty to True had expired. It found its way right to True’s stick as he skated in on a breakaway using a backhand shot to beat Wells for his third goal of the season at the 11:56 mark.
Less than three minutes later, Blichfeld scored his second goal of the game when received a pass from Lean Bergmann and wristed in his second goal of the season at the 14:17 mark. Keaton Middleton received the secondary assist on the goal.
Despite out shooting San Jose 19-14 through 40 minutes, Bakersfield (3-5-1-0) found it self trailing 3-0 and not being able to find any answers on their five power play opportunities, including a five-on-three they failed to cash in on.
“I though the goalie (Korenar) kept us in the game early,” said Sommer. “It was similar to the Colorado game where we kind of got opportune goals.”
San Jose put the game away with 6:17 remaining in the third period. Halbgewachs led a two-on-one odd man break with Evan Weinger. Halbgewachs made a spin-o-rama move around Dmitri Samorukov before centering the puck out in front of the crease over to Weinger who one-timed it into the back of the net for his second goal of the season.
The ‘Cuda put the icing on the cake less than three minutes later on the power play. Thomas Gregoire fed a cross-ice pass over to Simek who fired a shot toward the middle of the ice where Bergmann camped out and used his stick to tip the puck past Wells for his third goal of the season at the 16:43 mark. With the goal and assist, Bergmann has scored in all four games he’s played with San Jose totalling six points (3G, 3A).
“The penalty kill has been good for us the last few games,” said Sommer. “Last two teams have been 0 for 12 or 0 for 13. That makes a big difference and we’re scoring (goals) five-on-five.”
Korenar (3-2-0) finished the game stopping all 28 shots he faced for his second shutout in a row. Wells finished with 22 saves on 27 shots in the losing cause.
GAME NOTES: San Jose was 2/6 on the power play. Bakersfield was 0/6.
Kellman recorded two assists to extend his point streak (1G 7A=8) to six games.
The Barracuda had five players earn multiple points in the victory.
UP NEXT: The Barracuda travel up north to Stockton to take on the Heat on Friday, November 1 at 7:00 pm at Stockton Arena.