Welcome to the Barracuda Brief, your weekly one-stop shop for updates on the San Jose Barracuda. The Barracuda Brief will feature recaps, team news, quotes and other features to keep you up to date on the American Hockey League affiliate of the San Jose Sharks.
The Week That Was
To start, the big roster news for both the Sharks and the Barracuda during the week was the trade of Nikolay Goldobin and a conditional fourth round pick for Vancouver Canucks forward Jannik Hansen.
Aside from taking a top-five prospect from the Sharks cupboard, the transaction also took the Barracuda’s top winger who was third in scoring. Goldobin’s 15 goals and 26 assists will be tough to replace from the current roster.
Also missing are forward Marcus Sorensen and top defenseman Joakim Ryan. Sorensen potted his first NHL goal recently, and Ryan has been the extra defender the Sharks are carrying around. After the Heat victory with the defensive pairings being mixed up throughout the game, Sommer did not mince words, as usual.
‘Joaks’ is a big piece of the puzzle. He logs 25, 30 minutes a game and plays in all the key situations. He carries the puck on the power play, and we’ve missed that,” said head coach Roy Sommer of the Barracuda’s top defenseman. “He’s a big part of this team. But these guys aren’t here to play here. They’re here to play [with the Sharks], so when they get an opportunity, I’m happy for them.”
March 1: Texas Stars 2 – San Jose Barracuda 1 (SO)
Due to a late scheduling conflict at the SAP Center, the Stars and Barracuda took the ice at the team’s practice facility Solar4America Ice in San Jose. The Barracuda’s 14-game winning streak was on the line, and both Troy Grosenick and Justin Peters were a combination of lucky and good. The Stars opened the scoring in the second period with a goal by Ethan Werek. The Barracuda tied it up on Ryan Carpenter’s ninth of the season as he deflected a Tim Heed point shot.
After 60 minutes was not enough to decide the game, the teams headed to overtime, but even that was not enough hockey. The Barracuda’s struggles in the shootout continued when Werek’s deke got Grosenick to the ice, and he put home the shootout winner to end San Jose’s winning streak. After the game, Sommer said the goal of the Barracuda is to help the Sharks in any way they can, including losing players.
I’d be lying if I told you [Goldobin] wouldn’t be missed. But that’s hockey. The whole object of us down here is to make the big club better. If it’s making a deal to make them better, then so be it, that’s why we’re here. We still have a lot of offense on this team but we’re going to miss him on the power play, he’s as dynamic as there is in the American league as far as running a power play, making those little plays. It’s a great opportunity for him. He’s going get to play and play in the National Hockey League, which is all of these guys’ dream.
March 4: Stockton Heat 4 – San Jose Barracuda 1
Trying to continue the now 15-game point streak, John McCarthy tipped in a Tim Heed wrist shot from the right point to take an early lead. Matt Frattin answered back, scoring on the Heat’s first shot against Mantas Armalis. The Heat added another goal as Andrew Mangiapane skated around an unsuccessful poke check by Heed at the San Jose blueline to make it 2-1.
The Barracuda were thoroughly outshooting the Heat 34-16 early in the third before Austin Carrol took a bad turnover behind the San Jose net and beat Armalis down low. Rourke Chartier, all night a player in the thick of things for the Barracuda, made it interesting late with his 13th of the year. But Heat goalie David Rittich was a difference maker, and his 43-save performance gave the Barracuda their first regulation loss since Jan. 21. Mark Jankowski scored a shorthanded, empty-net goal to ice the victory.
“We played alright in Stockton, we didn’t play all that bad,” said Sommer the following night. “We had two real good periods and a so-so third. But their goalie was good.”
March 5: San Jose Barracuda 4 – San Diego Gulls 3 (OT)
It was one of the most un-Barracuda games of the year for the first 50 minutes of the contest. The Gulls took a commanding 3-1 lead into the final three minutes of regulation. San Diego’s defense, lead by Shea Theodore and his goal and assist on the evening, stymied San Jose’s transition game to perfection in the first two periods. The Barracuda found their footing in the third period after recording just 10 shots on net in the first 40 minutes. They kept dialing up the pressure until Rourke Chartier hacked at his own wraparound rebound to draw within a goal. It was the second goal in as many nights for the former Kelowna Rockets center.
“I think we wanted it [to be] a bit too easy. Once we decided we wanted to [play] the ugly way we really picked it up and it worked for us,” said the Barracuda’s leading scorer Danny O’Regan after the game.
— San Jose Barracuda (@sjbarracuda) March 6, 2017
In the final minute of action with Troy Grosenick pulled for the extra attacker, O’Regan’s wrist shot from the point found its way through traffic and past Kevin Boyle to tie the score in the game’s dying moments.
DANNY O'REGAN MAKES IT 3-3 WITH 15 SECONDS LEFT #SJBarracuda
— Hockey Jerk (@hockey_jerk) March 6, 2017
Then in overtime, the Barracuda’s leading scorer finished the comeback in a two-on-one with Adam Helewka. “Adam set me up with a nice pass. I actually lost the puck, but he managed to get it back for us. It was a little two-on-one. [Sharks development coach] Mike Ricci was telling me to shoot first the whole game. I looked off the pass and was able to put it in, but it was a great play by Adam to set it all up,” O’Regan said of his overtime winner.
— AHL (@TheAHL) March 6, 2017
Quote of the game: “It was one of those games. We couldn’t break the puck out. They were the better team than us, Grosenick kept us in it. But that’s a sign of a team that knows how to win when you can pull out a win like that,” said Sommer. “When we got on our horses, we got stuff done.”
The Playoff Picture
The Barracuda still are atop the AHL’s Pacific Division both in points (73) and winning percentage (71.6). If the playoffs started today, San Jose would face the Bakersfield Condors in the opening round. As teams jockey for position, the last 15 games will get harder, but the Barracuda look to be planted in one of the home-ice seeds, barring an epic collapse.
“Every game is going to be tougher the closer we get to the playoffs,” said Heed, the Barracuda’s leading scorer in defense with 45 points in 41 games. “I think we need to be a bit tougher in front of our net and breaking the puck out in our own zone. If we do that, we can get the puck down low and work there. When we’re down low [in the offensive zone], we’re a tough team.”
On the Schedule: Gulls, Griffins and a Double Doubleheader
The Barracuda keep up the season series with the San Diego Gulls with a pair of games coming up. San Jose will head down to San Diego for a mid-week game on Wednesday. Concluding the week, the Barracuda return to SAP Center for a pair of weekend games against Grand Rapids Griffins on March 11 and the Gulls for the third time in seven days. Both games are part of doubleheaders that will see SAP Center host four hockey games in under 36 hours.