Barracuda Brief: Atop the Pacific Division, Eight Is Great

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 will keep you up to date on the American Hockey League affiliate of the San Jose Sharks

The Week That Was

San Jose Barracuda winning streak is up to eight games after a successful week against their trio of Southern California rivals. The Barracuda now find themselves second in the AHL and first in the Pacific Division.

“We’ve been playing pretty well as a team. Finding ways to win, especially last night in Bakersfield. That game wasn’t really going our way and we stuck with it,” said Rourke Chartier about the eight-game winning streak.

San Jose Barracuda winning streak has relied on Troy Grosenick
Troy Grosenick (Scott Dinn/San Jose Barracuda)

The Barracuda and Tucson Roadrunners are tied for the fewest games played in the league at only 42. Despite having games in hand over the other six teams in the division, San Jose leads both in points (58) and winning percentage (.690).

“I’ve been doing this 20 years,” head coach Roy Sommer said after the Reign victory. “You can win five in a row. You win five in a row, you’re playing good hockey. Eight, that’s a pretty good run in the scheme of things. We’ve beat some really good teams along the way.”

Being near the top of the standings is not the only spot where the Barracuda are leading:

  1. Troy Grosenick is the AHL’s top netminder in shutouts (6), goals-against average (2.04) and save percentage (.932).
  2. Danny O’Regan is second in the rookie scoring race with 39 points and first in assists with 25 apples.
  3. Tim Heed is third in scoring by a defenseman. He trails Syracuse Crunch’s Matt Taormina by three points despite playing in 10 fewer games.
  4. The power play ranks fourth in the league, and the penalty kill is the best of all 30 teams.
  5. No team has allowed fewer goals (104) and only the Bakersfield Condors have committed fewer penalties.


February 8: Barracuda 2 – Gulls 1

The Barracuda picked up right where they left off and continued their hot play with an impressive win over the sizzling San Diego Gulls. The Gulls came to San Jose with Jhonas Enroth mowing down the competition for the Gulls with eight wins in his first eight starts.

San Jose Barracuda Adam Helewka
Adam Helewka drives the net for the opening goal. (Scott Dinn/San Jose Barracuda)

The first period started with both teams feeling each other out. In one of the only mistakes in the opening frame, power forward Adam Helewka opened the scoring with an intercepted pass that he took down the ice and snapped home his 11th goal of the season short-side on Enroth.

“We haven’t had good starts lately,” said Helewka after the game. “We know they come out fast. We knew how big it was to have a fast and strong start.”

Nikita Jevpalovs added to San Jose’s lead just 89 seconds into the middle frame with a backhand goal for his seventh of the season. Jevpalovs also was strong defensively and skating with Barclay Goodrow and John McCarthy, form the Barracuda’s shutdown line that still packs plenty of offensive punch.

Troy Grosenick continued his impressive 2016-17 campaign with a 38 save effort, allowing a lone goal after a mad scramble in front of the crease. It was one of only a handful of scrums in front of the San Jose net in recent memory, but the Gulls capitalized on the rare defensive breakdown, but the comeback attempt ended there.

Quote of the Game: “There wasn’t a lot going on in the first. It started picking up later in the first, both teams starting going,” head coach Roy Sommer said. “Bottom line our goalie was better than theirs.”

February 11: San Jose 4 – Condors 3 (OT)

[miptheme_quote author=”Barracuda head coach Roy Sommer on the team’s success this season. ” style=”pull-right”]”This a team that is learning how to win and having fun. They like each other. Half the team was in the back playing cards last night the whole way home. They get along, they have fun. It’s been a good ride so far.”[/miptheme_quote]

Every winning streak will have games that steal victory from the jaws of defeat, and the Barracuda swooped in to take the second point in their trip down to Bakersfield. Buddy Robinson had his first two-goal game as a member of the Barracuda. Robinson opened the scoring on a put-back of Dan Kelly’s point shot. The Condors got three straight goals from Josh Currie, Patrick Russell and Jesse Puljujarvi before Robinson struck again to cut the lead to a goal.

Barracuda captain John McCarthy scored at 1:38 of the third period to tie the contest and Mantas Armalis needed only four saves in the final frame to force overtime. Armalis stoned Puljujarvi to preserve the tie in the sudden-death period, opening the door for Joakim Ryan to blast home the game-winning goal past Jonas Gustavsson on San Jose’s 32nd shot of the contest.

The come from behind victory was improved Armalis’ record to 11-3-2 as the Lithuanian netminder continues to find a way piling up the wins.


February 12: San Jose 4 – Reign 1

The Reign were the last team to beat the Barracuda back on Jan. 21, and the 7-2 thumping was not forgotten. And after a long bus ride home after the overtime win in Bakersfield, San Jose’s young legs looked no worse for wear. The Reign were also without the services of key veterans to level the playing field.

Veteran blueliner Dan Kelly scored his first goal in teal with a point blast past Jack Campbell to get the Barracuda the first goal for the third time in three games. Kelly has been a hot hand in the late two games of the week, with a goal and three assists.

“I honestly don’t worry about it, I worry about my defensive game and anything else is a bonus,” Kelly said after the game about his recent offensive outburst. “I’m not here to score goals or get assists. I’m here to play strong defensive, help these guys develop and keep pucks out of the net.”

The Reign would tie it up late in the first with a Patrick Bjorkstrand deflection past Grosenick.

The middle stanza was all Barracuda all the time as San allowed only two shots on goal, both coming in the last 90 seconds of play. Offensive zone time was nearly constant, and Nikolay Goldobin potted his 12th goal of the season.

The Barracuda got an insurance goal from Jevpalovs at the 3:42 mark of the third period and Barclay Goodrow iced the game with an empty-net goal to seal the victory for San Jose.

Quotes of the Game:

“We had it going. Offensively I thought we did a really good job of puck possession. We used our backend really good. We rimmed out of a lot of plays, got pucks to the net, recovered and got them back again,” Sommer said about the win. “Everyone was involved”

On the Schedule

The Barracuda have another three-pack of games for the week ahead. On Feb. 14 the RoadRunners are in town for a Valentine’s Day tilt. San Jose won the only meeting between the two clubs this season, a 5-2 victory in January. San Jose then leaves for a back-to-back set of road games starting Feb. 12 against the Stockton Heat and wrapping up the next night versus the Ontario Reign.