Barracuda Claim Territory, Overthrow Moose 4-1

Photo: @sjbarracuda

By Alexandra Evans

SAN JOSE—The Barracuda retaliated against the Manitoba Moose big time this afternoon, overthrowing them 4-1 after a 5-2 loss the previous day.

The Cuda’s defensive game went up from yesterday in the first period. The Cuda took a few slick shots, but each was a “close but no cigar” type of situation; they just could not make it past Moose goaltender Eric Comrie, who is said to be an NHL starter for Winnipeg in the near future. In other words, the Cuda were strong on defense, not so much on offense despite two power play opportunities. The total of nine shots were comprised of two from Radim Simek, two from Adam Helewka, and one each from Rudolfs Balcers, Brandon Bollig, Danny O’Regan, Jacob Middleton, and Alexander True.

The second period started off strong defensively, and the Cuda took a 1-0 lead after O’Regan scored at the 4:10 mark with helpers from Middleton and John McCarthy. San Jose held on until 16:33, when Manitoba’s Patrice Cormier notched a power play goal to tie the score 1-1 after 40 minutes of play.

“[Comrie] is really good, I think I was just able to get through the defensive zone there have get a point-blank shot, and those are tough [for goalies] to stop,” O’Regan said of his goal.

The third period was the game-maker. The Cuda amped up their offensive game big time and scored three goals in these 20 minutes, despite a no-goal call for O’Regan, who made a shot attempt close to the two minute mark. Marcus Sorensen made a wrist shot at 1:53 after receiving a pass from Balcers (who would put up three assists before the 60 minute mark hit). Rourke Chartier, who was out six months due to injury, notched his first goal of the season “Logan Couture-style,” Coach Roy Sommer described, referring to the Sharks forward who currently leads the team in points with 14. Chartier’s goal was assisted by Balcers and Brandon Mashinter. Balcers also assisted Radim Simek’s empty-net goal at 17:22, as did Sorensen.

“He’s good,” Sorensen said of Balcers. “When he skates hard, he’s creating a lot of space for other people [to score]. It is fun to see him play.”

Balcers, who has one goal and 10 assists this season, added, “I didn’t expect that I was going to struggle with scoring goals this season, but I’m happy that assists come and that the other guys score.” Sommer noted that Balcers, in the past, has been more adept at putting up goals rather than assists.

Tonight’s starting goaltender, Antoine Bibeau, earned his second win with the Cuda. He only gave up one shot in the entire 60 minutes (he had 17 saves on 18 shots, and has above a .925 save percentage overall).

“[Tonight] was probably the best game I’ve played defensively, especially going into the third period,” Bibeau shared following the match. “It felt to me like a playoff game, how we were playing. We played hard, played everything right… We didn’t show up just to be here [today], we showed up to win a game.”

Forwards Kevin Labanc and Brandon Bollig were spot on about the fact that the key to success is playing with a two-way mindset, having confidence both offensively and defensively, though not so much confidence that effort subsides. Bollig added that attitude impacts the game significantly, which few could argue against. The momentum from yesterday’s third period translated well into today’s match, overall.

“We were a lot tighter,” Sommer said after the match. “We took time and space away [from the Moose], which made us play a lot better than last night.”

How can the Cuda carry on this kind of energy, cultivating wins, without becoming overly confident? I asked Adam Helewka, and he answered, “We just have to keep our game simple, not too pretty, and keep making the plays we made tonight, but at the same time, we just want to get pucks and bodies to the net.”

By “pretty,” Helewka suggested that making too many passes, and playing or shooting from the outside of the opposing team’s defense, would convey a “showy” type of game rather than competitive.


Moose Cross Barracuda Territory, Leave Their Mark 5-2

Photo: @sjbarracuda

By Alexandra Evans

SAN JOSE—The Barracuda commenced their weekend with the first game of a double header against the Manitoba Moose (affiliate of the Winnipeg Jets), who certainly left their mark after scoring five goals over the first and second periods, during which the Cuda were scoreless. The Moose took a 5-2 victory.

The first 20 minutes started off rather smooth; defense was strong on both ends, both goalies effectively protected their nets. But then, just before the 13-minute mark, the Moose began scoring over a course of five minutes; the scoring frenzy ended just before the 18 minute mark. The Cuda were down 3-0 at the end of the first despite outshooting the Moose 13-9. Jack Roslovic, Mike Sgarbossa, and JP Lipon scored the three goals, respectively.

The Cuda remained quiet throughout the second period, even with two power play opportunities (up from one opportunity in the first). The Moose proceeded to score two more goals, courtesy of Roslovic (one of the Jets’ top prospects) and Jansen Harkins.

San Jose did not score until the third period. Determined as ever since being reassigned to the Cuda from the Sharks last week, Kevin Labanc notched San Jose’s first goal of the game (and his first of the season with the Cuda) just before the six-minute mark. Brandon Bollig chimed in with just about a minute left in the game, scoring his second goal of the season. The momentum picked up substantially in the third period, and both Labanc and Bollig, in a post-game scrum, noted that heavy momentum is what the team needs to play a sound game, amp up their competition, and ultimately play better.

“I don’t think we deserved to give up five goals,” Bollig said. “We played a good game, it just came down to capitalizing on Manitoba’s chances. This was not a lack of effort.”

“I think we were overly confident,” Labanc added. “They’re a good team, you’ve got to tip your hat, but we’ve got to come prepared tomorrow and fix our mistakes… we need to not turn the puck over, and just be a little harder and heavier in the defensive zone. It’s a two-way game, we need to come with a two-way mentality.”

Troy Grosenick, San Jose’s starting goalie, only made 11 saves on 16 shots, while Eric Comrie stopped 36 shots out of 38.

Not to fear, the Cuda have a second chance to claim their territory over the Moose tomorrow. The line pairings are likely to change, especially since Rudolfs Balcers, Alexander True, and Filip Sandberg, as a group, did not meet Coach Roy Sommer’s expectations, he said following the match.

On a happier note, Rourke Chartier returned to the ice this afternoon after a six-month absence due to injury. On a separate note, Grosenick and his wife, Maggie, welcomed their first child, a son named Beckett, on November 7.