Photo credit: @sjbarracuda
By Alexandra Evans
SAN JOSE — The Barracuda have returned to San Jose from their road trip to the Midwest, Texas, and Southern California (a trip that came with three consecutive losses) to face the Texas Stars yet again. The Stars overthrew them 3-2 in a shootout last Saturday, October 28. Tonight, the Cuda refused to be outshined again and crushed them 6-1.
Roster update: Kevin Labanc was reassigned to the Barracuda from the Sharks today. In 13 games with the Sharks this season, he has posted three goals and four assists for seven points, along with a minus-3 rating and 10 penalty minutes.
The force was strong in the first period, and I am not just saying that because the previous night (November 4th’s match against the Anaheim Ducks) was Star Wars night for the Sharks! Marcus Sorensen scored two goals less than three minutes apart, the first one on the power play (Ludwig Bystrom scored the Stars’ first goal of the game 59 seconds before Sorensen’s second goal, on the power play). Nearing the end of the period, at 17:19, Filip Sandberg scored after being handed the puck by Rudolfs Balcers, who received the pass from Brandon Mashinter. In some of the earlier games this season, the Cuda had put up numerous penalties in a single period alone. There were only two in the first tonight.
The second period remained rather quiet, and ended scoreless. Following the first intermission, the boys stepped on the ice looking confident, as they should after a killer first period. Three goals in one period alone is something the Cuda had yet to accomplish prior to tonight’s match.
Five minutes into the third period, the Cuda has 25 shots on goal. Adam Helewka and Julius Bergman each fired the puck at the net within a few minutes of one another, hitting the rim and bouncing back after each player’s attempt. Then, almost eight minutes in, Sorensen notched a hat trick, assisted by Danny O’Regan and Labanc. Approximately three minutes later, Cavan Fitzgerald scored his first goal of the season, making the score 5-1. Oliver Archambault (who was recently recalled from the Allen Americans of the ECHL) wanted in on the action, and scored (his first goal as well) at the 18:44 mark. The final score was 6-1.
Sorensen, who played on the offensive line with O’Regan and Labanc (as he had last year), spoke with the media about his hat trick following the match. This was his first time scoring since opening night.
“It’s huge to be part of the offensive [line], especially on a power play. You need to help the team,” he said.
“[Sorensen] has always had potential, he just found the back of the net, which made an easy night. It was awesome to watch,” Coach Roy Sommer said.
Labanc also spoke about his reassignment to the Cuda. It came as a shocker for some, but his A-game is as strong as always.
“It was definitely fun [playing with the Sharks]. You want to come with the right attitude, you don’t want to think you’re sent down, you just have to be motivated to get back up, and be a good leader for all of the young guys, show them what it takes to play up there [in the NHL]. Work hard, work everyday.
“I learn from Jumbo [Joe Thornton], he’s always working. No matter what or where I play, you’ve got to have that work ethic, that’s what will make you a good hockey player. I’m down here [with the Cuda], so I’m going to work and just do the best that I can.
“Just because you get sent down, don’t be sorry for yourself. Instead, make a statement. Let them know you’re going to play hard no matter what…don’t waste a day,” Labanc shared.
Labanc, who enjoyed reconnecting with last year’s teammates, also discussed the smooth flow between him, Sorensen, and O’Regan.
“I knew I was playing with Marcus and Danny beforehand, so I knew we had chemistry. You just do what you can, play hard, and goals will come,” he said.
I also spoke with Helewka, Archambault, and Fitzgerald on their overall thoughts and feelings about tonight’s big win.
“The talk in the room before the game was ‘it’s a must-win for our confidence.’ We played like that, it showed, and we had success because of it,” Helewka said.
Helewka’s hand-eye coordination has really stood out to me so far this season; he truly knows where the net is, he knows where to send the puck in order to get it into the net, and how to find the “holes” around the net minder. He has been the king of assists thus far.
“I’ve always kind of worked on [my hand-eye coordination], so I guess it might be progressing this year,” Helewka told me after I brought the subject up with him.
Archambault and Fitzgerald scored their first goals of the season in tonight’s match, Archambault’s being his first in the AHL.
“It’s fun to get the first one out of the way, a good pass by my teammates [Tim Clifton and Radim Simek], so I was happy,” Archambault said.
“We had a lot of confidence in everyone tonight, in all three zones we felt good,” Fitzgerald said. “It was a big bounce-back game for us. We knew we needed to come back… it’s good to get that first win [since returning to San Jose] out of the way.”