Photo credit: @sjbarracuda
By Alexandra Evans
SAN JOSE—The San Jose Barracuda put up a solid defensive fight through Friday night’s match against the Tucson Roadrunners, who managed to notch two goals in the final two minutes of the game and earn a 3-1 win.
Both teams played sound defensively in the first period until the final two minutes when Roadrunners’ Michael Bunting approached the net, prompting Cuda goaltender Antoine Bibeau to move out of the net to stop what looked like a play. With Bibeau out of the way, Bunting put the puck right in the net at the 18:08 mark to give Tucson the lead.
In the second period, Rudolfs Balcers scored a power play goal at the 3:08 mark. Despite putting up an additional 16 shots (for 29 total), including some promising attempts from Danny O’Regan on a five-on-three run, the Cuda failed to make it past Hunter Miska, but managed to stop the Roadrunners from scoring again…until the end of third period.
Both teams held one another scoreless for the first 18 minutes of the third, when all of a sudden, Mike Sislo copped a rebound goal with a minute and a half remaining, followed by another from Bunting 23 seconds later to make the final score 3-1.
“It happened so quick,” Bibeau said of Tucson’s final two goals. Despite each “blink of an eye” (so to speak), he saw the puck far better than he had during Wednesday’s 6-0 shutout loss.
Bibeau, who came off of his fifth consecutive win on Sunday evening in Bakersfield, agreed that the team’s defense was very sound throughout the entire match. The team’s inability to score impacted the game, but did not reflect their effort as a whole.
The Roadrunners are ranked #1 in the Pacific Division of the AHL, and some may wonder if it takes even more momentum and strength to stand up to such a team. Not necessarily, according to Bibeau. He explained that there was not much the Cuda needed to change as far as effort, as, coming off of the 6-0 shutout loss, effort was more important to them than whether or not they defeated the Roadrunners (whose sound playing styles he acknowledged, and the fact that they stimulated strong competition that evening).
Edging on their next two matches against Tucson on Tuesday and Wednesday (in the desert), Bibeau said that taking time to relax on the team’s off days will serve them well, and that they will play the next two games with a mindset no different than one which they would have against a lower-ranked team.
Roster update: Danny O’Regan was reassigned to the Barracuda from the Sharks this afternoon, and Bryan Moore was recalled from the Allen Americans. Additionally, the club signed Emerson Clark of the ECHL’s Jacksonville Icemen to a professional tryout agreement.