Photo credit: @sjbarracuda
By Marko Ukalovic
SAN JOSE–Rudolfs Balcers and the San Jose Barracuda (14-11-0-2) have a flair for the dramatics as they overcame a two goal deficit in the second period to win 6-5 in a overtime thriller over the Stockton Heat (16-8-2-2) at the SAP Center on Thursday afternoon.
Balcers’ game-winning heroics came at the 2:39 mark of overtime when Stockton misfired on a pass at their own blue line. Balcers picked up the puck and made a nice move to skate around Heat forward Andrew Manginapane to get to the front of the crease where his initial shot was stopped by a sprawling Heat goalie Jon Gillies (9-6-3) but was able to slide home his second attempt into the net.
“It just plopped right in front of me”, said Balcers on his game-winning goal. “I just wanted to get a good angle for a shot when I saw Jon (Gillies) go the other way, I just deked him and tucked it in there.”
It didn’t take long for the fireworks to get started as Mangiapane opened the scoring with his 12th goal on the season after a turnover by Danny O’Reagan not being able to clear puck out of the Cuda’s zone. Mangiapane took a feed from Ryan Lomberg and ripped a wrist shot to the far corner past goalie Parker Gahagen (2-1-0) just 1:07 into the game.
Stockton kept the momentum going after Mangiapane’s goal with the Barracuda by taking two penalties 1:28 apart to set up a 5-on-3 opportunity for the Heat. However San Jose’s penalty kill was able to keep the puck of the net. They controlled play for the most of the first period as they had multiple odd man rushes but weren’t able to capitalize on them.
San Jose would tied the score at one when defenseman Michael Brodzinki scored his second of the season at 11:20 of the first period when his shot from the right point ricocheted off of Heat defenseman Oliver Kylington and over Gillies’ shoulder and bounced into the net. Radim Simek and Filip Sandberg assisted on the goal
Both teams would trade goals just 38 seconds apart late in the first period. Jon Martin scored his third goal on season for the Cuda when he was able to bury a rebound into an empty net. Tim Clifton won a battle along the boards and got the puck over to Emerson Clark, whose shot found a wide open Martin after bouncing off the pads of Gillies at 16:04. The Cuda were guilty of a bad turnover in the neutral zone when Emile Poirier skated in on a 3-on-1 down the right wing and wristed a shot past Gahagen at 16:42. The unassisted goal was Poirier’s third goal of the season.
The Heat made the most of the opportunities in the second period. Mangiapane scored his 13th goal of the season and second of the game at 13:57 when he skated in from the right slot and used Jacob Middleton as a screen and fired a shot past Gahagen for a 3-2 lead. Rasmus Andersson and Oleg Yevenko assisted on the play.
After a bad pinch in by San Jose’s Radim Simek lead to a 2-on-1 beak for the Heat, Brett Findley was able to finish off a spectacular tic-tac-toe give and go passing display between him and Mangiapane for his sixth goal on the season at the 16:02 mark for a 4-2 lead. Ryan Lomberg also received an assist.
O’Reagan would atone for his earlier error in the game when he cut the lead to 4-3 with just 16.8 seconds left in the second period. His seventh goal of the season came after Balcers was able to keep the puck in the Heat zone and fed O’Regan who was able to dipsy-do his way up to the left slot and fire a shot past Gillies.
Cuda defenseman Julius Bergman tied the game 4-4 at 5:56 of the third period when he scored his third goal of the season from the right point after taking a cross ice pass from Jacob Middleton. Bergman’s shot found its way into the back of the net with a bunch of traffic screening Gillies into the top left corner of the goal.
Not to be outdone by his fellow defenseman, Nick DeSimone gave the Cuda a 5-4 lead just 1:18 later on a deja vu play as his shot also from the right point beat Gillies with players screening him in front of the goal at the 7:14 mark. Brandon Mashinter and Radim Simek provided the assists on the goal.
“We’re not a one dimensional team,” head coach Roy Sommer said on his defensemen’s contributions on offense. “If we don’t get the full compliment of people scoring, we’re going to be in trouble.”
The Heat’s Hunter Shinkauk would tie the game at 15:56 when he skated in from the middle of the blue line all alone in front of Gahagen snapping a shot past him. Marek Hrivik and Poirier assisted on the goal.
Gahagen earned his second win of the season by making 24 saves on 29 shots including stopping a breakaway attempt by Stockton’s Poirier late in the 3rd period. Gillies took the loss making 26 saves on 32 shots.
GAME NOTES: Both teams were 0/4 on the power play. San Jose is 16/16 in their past four games on the penalty kill.
The teams exchanged fisticuffs twice during the game. Joesph Crammarosa and Calvan Fitzgerald fought in the first period and Brandon Bollig dropped the gloves with Oleg Yevenko in the third period.
UP NEXT: The Barracuda travel up to the Great White North for the first of back to back games against the Manitoba Moose on Saturday December 30th at Bell MTS Iceplex in Winnipeg.