Barracuda Brief: San Jose Misses Shot at 1st Place

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 San Jose Sharks’ American Hockey League affiliate.

The Week That Was

The San Jose Barracuda only had two games on the docket this week and fumbled on a chance to overtake the Ontario Reign for first place in the Pacific Division. The Barracuda finished the week with an 18-9-1-3 record and a winning percentage of .622, good for second place in the division and third in the Western Conference.

January 13: Ontario 3 – San Jose 2

In the first “big” game for the young squad, the Ontario Reign rolled into town for a showdown between the first and second place teams in the Pacific Division.

(Scott Dinn/San Jose Barracuda)

With a win, the Barracuda could have moved into first place. The Reign showed their experience and came out with a big three-goal first period. The Barracuda were again without the services of Tim Heed. The team missed the offensive catalyst, especially when breaking out of their own zone. Even with Heed’s absence, the Barracuda rebounded with a two-goal in the middle frame. Nikita Jevpalovs took a feed from Rourke Chartier and went up high on Reign goalie Jack Campbell. Less than four minutes later, Nikolay Goldobin would also get a puck past Campbell to make it 3-2 heading into the final period. Ontario sat back and clogged up the Barracuda transition game to thwart any comeback, and Campbell’s 35 saves made the difference in his 16th consecutive start.

Quote of the Game: “I wouldn’t mind playing with any of our [defenseman]. I like playing with [Jacob Middleton], he’s a real solid player,” said Joakim Ryan on the absence of Tim Heed and retooling of the Barracuda blueline. “I play my off-side now, which I did all last year, so I’m used to it. Obviously, I love playing with ‘Heeder.’ But when he’s not here, we have to pick up the slack.”

January 14: San Jose 2 – Stockton 0

The Barracuda make a habit of bouncing back after tough periods of action or mediocre games. The Stockton Heat just happened to be once again the team on the schedule that San Jose got back on track against. The two teams were scoreless through 40 minutes of action before a pair of third-period goals for the Barracuda stole the win.

Nikita Jevpalovs broke the scoreless tie when he rocketed home a shot from between the faceoff circles past Jon Gillies. Rourke Chartier added the insurance goal as he froze Heat netminder Jon Gillies before snapping the puck past Gillies’ glove short side.

San Jose Barracuda goaltender Mantas Armalis (Scott Dinn/San Jose Barracuda)

Mantas Armalis made only 19 saves for his second AHL shutout and improved his personal record to 9-2-2 with the Barracuda. “The whole game was really great from the defense and the forwards as well. The forwards are helping the [defense] so everyone can do their job. Everyone trusts each other,” Armalis said of the solid defensive effort in front of him. The Barracuda killed all seven Stockton power plays en route to the clean sheet.

Quote of the Game: “I thought [Armalis] looked really good tonight,” said head coach Roy Sommer after the win. “He looked real calm, he was seeing pucks, and I thought he moved well. Chartier, I thought it was one of his better games all year. He was on pucks. He was really good down  low.”

Tim Heed Up With Sharks

The explosive debut of Tim Heed with the Barracuda finally resulted in his NHL debut. The former Anaheim Ducks 2010 draft pick played over 16 minutes against the Flames as the Sharks were down to five defensemen. Regulars David Schlemko and Paul Martin were out with injuries and Mirco Mueller was ruled ineligible in the early minutes of the contest. Tim Heed spoke about his NHL debut and remains up with the parent club as the seventh defenseman.

 On the Calendar:

In the final game of the Barracuda‘s  seven-game homestand, the Bakersfield Condors visit the SAP Center on Jan. 16. San Jose then heads south to face the San Diego Gulls on Jan. 20 and the Reign on Jan. 21. San Diego will be the first stop on a seven-game road trip that will keep the Barracuda away from SAP Center until a Feb. 8 match-up against the Gulls as well.