The San Jose Barracuda were beaten by three goals by the Ontario Reign in a Wed Mar 30, 2022 matinee at the SAP Center in San Jose (image by the San Jose Barracuda)
by Marko Ukalovic
SAN JOSE — It was an early morning mismatch.
The Ontario Reign scored every which way but loose in a 6-3 victory over the San Jose Barracuda on Wednesday morning at SAP Center.
San Jose has lost five games in a row and anchor the basement of the Pacific Division with 44 points and 10 games remaining in the season. Ontario has won three out of its last four games and have clinched a playoff spot in the division as they sit in second place with 79 points.
Ontario (36-14-4-3) drew first blood just under five minutes into the first period. An odd man rush led to Akil Thomas poking home his own rebound for his second goal of the season at the 4:36 mark.
The Reign doubled its lead at the 12:45 mark of the opening frame. A shot from Thomas Hickey was cleaned up by Samuel Fagemo who banked the puck off of ‘Cuda goalie Alex Stalock into the back of the net for his 22nd goal of the season.
San Jose (20-34-2-2) responded with a late goal in the first period. Evan Weinger skated in on Reign goalie Matthew Villalta, who made the initial save on Weinger’s shot. Jasper Weatherby trailed the play and cashed in the rebound for his fourth goal of the season at the 15:50 mark.
Ontario scored a tic-tac-toe goal on the power play with just under a minute left in the first period. Thomas hammered a home a one-timer from between the faceoff circles for his second goal of the game and third of the season at the 19:02 mark.
Thomas. who hadn’t scored in his first 25 games, now has three goals in his last three games.
Ontario dominated the shot clock 18-6 in the first period.
“We’re just taking it one game a time,” said ‘Cuda head coach Roy Sommer. “We’re trying to get some wins. No one is throwing in the towel. The trade deadline hurt us a lot. Now we’re just trying to find ways to win and stay in games early if we can.”
The Reign extended its lead early in the second period. Fagemo finished off a two-on-one odd man rush when he beat Stalock with a wrist shot for his second goal of the game and 23rd of the season at the 1:30 mark.
The Reign went up a 5-1 with a shorthanded goal. 10 second into the Barracuda power play Nikita Pavlychev skated in from the left wing and beat Stalock with a wrist shot for his second goal of the season at the 8:33 mark.
San Jose scored a power play goal just past the halfway mark of the middle frame. Joachim Blichfeld wired a wrist shot to the far side off the post that beat Villata for his team leading 22nd goal of the season at the 10:41 mark.
Blichfeld’s 11th power play goal tied a franchise record.
“It’s been (an) up and down (year),” said Blichfeld about how his season individually. “Obviously you want to be playing in the NHL and that has not happened so far. You just want to go out there and show the guys at the top that you can play in the NHL.”
Aiden Dudas scored his 10th goal of the season 39 seconds into the third period. Stalock had lost his goal stick during the play and Dudas took advantage with a wrist shot to the far side that Stalock had no chance at.
San Jose cut Ontario’s lead in half when Adam Raska set up Evan Weinger in the low slot and Weinger’s one-timer beat Villata for his 12th goal of the season at the 5:27 mark.
Villata finished the game stopping 28 of the 31 shots he faced in earning the victory. Stalock made 27 saves on 33 shots in suffering his third straight loss.
GAME NOTES: San Jose finished 1-for-5 on the power play. Ontario was 1-for-2.
The Three Stars of the Game were: 1) Thomas 2) Fagemo 3) T.J. Tynan
It was the second ‘Cuda Classroom Day promotion of the season for the Barracuda.
UP NEXT: San Jose begins a weekend series with the Stockton Heat on Saturday 4/2 at 6:00pm at the Stockton Arena.