By Mary Walsh
photo credit: San Jose Barracuda–The Barracuda lose to the Bakerfield Condors 4-2 on Valentines day at SAP
SAN JOSE– The San Jose Barracuda fell to the Bakersfield Condors by a score of 4-2 Sunday. The game winner was scored by Ryan Hamilton. Anders Nilsson was in net for the win, making 21 saves on 23 shots. For San Jose, Aaron Dell made 22 saves on 25 shots faced. Both Barracuda goals were scored by Ben Smith.
San Jose and Bakersfield were playing for third place in the division on Sunday. When the game started, the Barracuda had a two point lead over the Condors but had played one more game. With the win, the Condors jumped the Barracuda for third place in the AHL’s Pacific Division.
I remember when the Bakersfield Condors wore grey and burgundy and had the names of local businesses on the tails of their jerseys. That was when they were an ECHL team last year. Now the Condors look pretty much like the Oilers, especially from a distance far enough to not see the emblem. They wear the same colors but they differ in one important respect: they are doing well in their division this season.
The Barracuda were first on the power play, into the first period. Bakersfield was called for too many men on the ice and Anton Slepyshev served the penalty at 11:47. San Jose did not score. Instead, Bakersfield scored at . Barracuda goaltender Aaron Dell stopped the first couple of shots during a Condor attack during which the Barracuda could not clear the puck out. Andrew Miller’s shot went over Dell’s shoulder from the slot to give the visitors the lead. It was Miller’s twelfth of the season. Assists went to Rob Klinkhammer and Jujhar Khaira.
The Condors kept the Barracuda on their heels for the rest of the period. With San Jose defenders stuck in their zone, they were lucky to make it to intermission down by just one.
At the end of the period, the teams were tied on the shot clock but the home team trailed by one.
The second period was marked by a lot of hits and questionable stick use. By the ten minute mark, the Barracuda had added two shots and the Condors just one. Near the eleven minute mark, the game’s first fight broke out behind the Barracuda goal line. The scuffle landed Andrew Miller and Joakim Ryan in the box with roughing minors. Miller got an additional two minutes, so Slepyshev joined him in the box and a Barracuda power play commenced.
San Jose still could not score, but they did keep the Condors on the defensive. And defend they did. The Baracuda had very little time to take the shots they got credit for and many that just missed the net. With six minutes left, Bakersfield still only had one shot in the period but they still had a one goal lead.
The Condors got their first power kay with 4:13 left in the second. San Jose’s Julius Bergman went to the box for slashing. During their power play they finally got a few shots on goal. Half way through the power play, Karl Stollerysent the puck out of play and was called for delay of game. San Jose managed the three on five penalty kill and the minute of four on five that followed.
At the end of the second, the score was still 1-0 Condors and the shots were 17-15 Condors.
The third period started with an early chance for the Condors that hit a post. That seemed to wake the Barracuda up and they responded with several good shifts in the offensive zone. When the Condors pushed back, they were wrapped up in extended board battles and had few chances to score again until the middle of the period.
At, the Condors extended their lead. A neutral zone breakdown gave the Condors a two-then-three on one with Julius Bergman as the one. Jujhar Khaira scored the goal with assists going to Andrew Miller and Griffin Reinhart.
The goal unsettled the Barracuda and inspired the Condors. The orange and blue attack continued with the Barracuda scrambling defensively.
The Barracuda recovered somewhat in the second half of the period. At 12:05 they scored after John McCarthy and Ben Smith combined to win the puck off the boards. McCarthy carried it behind the net and tried a wraparound. That did not work but Smith was on the other side of the crease to catch the puck and put it in. It was his seventh goal of the season in eleven games played with the team. McCarthy received the lone assist.
The Condors did not let that go and stretched their lead back to two with 3:40 left in the game. Entering the zone fast two one two, Ryan Hamilton and Tyler Pitlick gave the Condors their third goal of the game.
The Barracuda made a game of it with just over a minute left. A good four skater rush through the neutral zone and some give and go between Smith and Bryan Lerg resulted in another goal for Smith.
Barracuda coach Sommer opted to pull his goaltender after that and with 26.2 left in the game, the puck escaped the neutral zone and only the Condors’ Klinkhammer was near enough to catch it. He put it in the Barracuda net.
Final score: 4-2 Condors.
John McCarthy led the Barracuda in shots on goal with five. Mirco Mueller, called up to the Sharks briefly after Brenden Dillon’s recent injury, was back with the AHL squad in time for Sunday’s game.
Raffi Torres, still on the Barracuda roster, did not play for the second game in a row. He has played five games with the Barracuda this year.
The Barracuda hit the road next week and will face the Heat on Saturday and Sunday in Stockton.