The San Jose Barracuda after defeating the Tucson Roadrunners on Tue May 18th advance to the next play in game against either the Ontario Reign or the Colorado Eagles in the AHL Pacific Division playoffs (image from @sjbarracuda)
by Marko Ukalovic
IRVINE, Calif–Jake McGrew scored the game winning goal for the San Jose Barracuda halfway through the third period in a 2-1 victory over the Tucson Roadrunners in a Pacific Division single elimination play-in-game on Tuesday afternoon at Five Point Arena.
San Jose came into the play-in-game as the fourth seed and Tucson was the seventh seed after the regular season concluded. The Pacific Division is the only division in the AHL to participate in a post-season tournament for the 2021 season. The winner of both play-in-games will be the fourth seed and take on the top seeded Henderson Silver Knights in a best of three series.
McGrew’s heroics came as San Jose gained its first lead of the game. Scott Reedy poked the puck away from Victor Soderstrom behind the net. Jayden Halbgewachs quickly found McGrew along the end line and the SoCal native beat Prosvetov with a quick wrist shot to the near side of the post for his first playoff goal at the 9:18 mark of the third period.
The opening 20 minutes was scoreless as both teams played a defensive minded style of play. Both teams combined for just 11 shots in the first period.
Tucson drew first blood early in the second period. A clearing attempt by San Jose was intercepted by Nate Sucese near the left corner boards. Sucese found Jan Jenik at the left slot and Jenik skated in and shot a backhander that beat ‘Cuda goalie Josef Korenar at the 3:01 mark.
San Jose answered back just past the half way mark in the middle frame. Nicolas Meloche fired a shot along the left boards that hit off the skate of a crashing Evan Weinger through the five-hole of Roadrunners goalie Ivan Prosvetov at the 11:24 mark. Brandon Coe received the secondary assist.
Both teams had 13 shots each after the first 40 minutes of the game.
Tucson pulled Prosvetov in the final 2:05 for an extra attacker to try send the game into overtime but Korenar and his defense held down the fort and sent the Roadrunners into the off season.
Korenar finished the game stopping 19 of the 20 shots he faced to earn the victory and his second playoff victory of his ALH career. Prosvetov made 18 saves on 20 n the losing effort.
GAME NOTES: San Jose went 0-for-3 on the power play. Tucson was 0-for-3.
The Three Stars of the Game were: 1) Korenar 2) McGrew 3) Jenik
UP NEXT: The Barracuda will play the winner of the Ontario Reign vs, Colorado Eagles game on Wednesday 5/19 at 7:00pm at Five Point Arena in Irvine.