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.
Barracuda and Heat in Instant Classic
San Jose Barracuda Game 5 against the Stockton Heat was one for the ages. In a goaltending duel that needed three goaltenders and overtime to come to an end, the teams battled for over 70 minutes before a winner was determined.
“Playoffs, you know, everyone that is playing now is good. It’s no different than the NHL right now. Anyone playing is good, said Barracuda head coach Roy Sommer after the overtime victory. “You don’t get there unless you’re good. There’s so much parity. These guys battled. They had some injuries. They gave us a hell of a series.”
The Heat started David Rittich for the third straight contest, and the Czech netminder was a wall in the first period stopping all 15 shots he faced to keep San Jose off the board. On the other end of the ice, reigning AHL Goaltender of the Year Troy Grosenick made nine stops as the two teams went to the first recess with no score.
Heat Get the First Goal on a Fluke
After the first period, Jon Gillies entered the net to replace Rittich, who was ill according to Heat coach Adam Huska. Gillies’ strong play coupled with a strange goal by Jamie Devane, where the puck squirted out in front of Grosenick’s net after rattling around the side of the net before squeezing out to Devane for the first goal.
“Kind of weird bounce off the board. I felt it hit my blocker and I just didn’t quite know where it was on the net. I was trying to seal the post to make sure it didn’t squeak through. It’s kind of one of those weird plays, but hey they’re puck hounds and they found a way to put it in. Our guys battled back and got the big goals.”
The Barracuda blitzed Gillies with 23 shots in the second period. The former Providence Friars netminder stood tall in relief after two so-so starts against the Barracuda in the first two games.
“[Rittich] played really well he went out, he had been sick or something,” Sommer said. “Then [Gillies] that hadn’t played really well against us, I was kinda going like this [rubbing his hands together] and stood on his head he must have made 15, 18 point-blank [saves].”
Meier Capitalizes on Mishandle
Despite the continued bombardment on the Stockton net, the score remained 1-0 until the Barracuda got a bounce that went their way. On a hard pass around the board, Stockton defender Oliver Kylington tried to corral the puck, but it slipped off his stick and, coupled with pressure from Timo Meier, gave the Barracuda a two-on-one. The left-handed Meier entered the offensive zone on his off-wing with Rourke Chartier and wired the tying goal to the far side of Gillies.
“It was just kind of a broken play. The puck came around, slipped off the Stockton guy’s stick, and I was right there. I was able to put it behind him and go for a two-on-one and just picked the corner and put it in.”
The Heat had an excellent chance coming off the stick of captain Mike Angelidis, but Grosenick made a windmill glove save that had the Heat captain slump over and then look to the sky in disbelief.
— San Jose Barracuda (@sjbarracuda) May 3, 2017
“That’s a tough veteran team over there. They got three or four guys I think have won the Calder Cup. It says a lot about the group we have in there, however many rookies we have,” Grosenick said. “All of them have playoff experience at different levels, and they know how to win. It was never really a question [to] us, but it’s good to prove it.”
Overtime in Game 5 makes Carpenter A Hero
The Heat nearly sent home the boisterous crowd in a far less happy mood. Hunter Shinkaruk broke in all alone on Grosenick and found the iron, as his shot beat the Barracuda goalie but clanked off the post. There were nervous moments when it looked as if the puck might have ricocheted off the back of Grosenick, but the game continued as the puck appeared behind the net and not in it.
How did the clank off the iron sound on Hunter Shinkaruk’s breakaway?
“Some sound good, some sound bad. That one sounded pretty good,” said Grosenick with a smile.
Later in the overtime period, it was again the penalty killers that did the damage. The Barracuda were tied for the AHL lead during the regular season with 14 short-handed goals. That same dangerous unit catapulted San Jose into the second round with their second shorty of the series.
Barclay Goodrow poked the puck away from Stockton’s Michael Kostka and beat him to the puck down the left boards. Goodrow controlled the puck long enough to make a perfect back-hand pass to Ryan Carpenter in the slot. Carpenter, the Barracuda’s leading scorer this postseason with seven points, wristed a shot under Gillies’ glove to send the 4,843 in attendance into a frenzied celebration.
— American Hockey League (@TheAHL) May 3, 2017
“I lost the draw, and they were kind of going back and forth, D to D, and so we were just trying to stay in the shot lanes. The [Heat defender] made a bad pass or bounce or whatever it was, and Goodrow pounced on it,” said Carpenter of his game winner, the final of his nine shots on goal in the contest. “He really did a good job protecting the puck, just a strong, strong play by him. When he backhanded it to me, I was wide open in the slot. You probably couldn’t ask for an easier chance. Just tried getting it off quick and just happy it went in.”
“Shinkaruk, I thought it was over. He hit the post, and it goes in behind [the net]. But you know what, every team that goes a long way, whether those NCAA tournaments or whatever, there’s always a huge scare somewhere. That’s kind of happened to us tonight,” said Sommer. “But I thought we deserved to win. I thought we were the better team tonight.”
Sommers Says the Win the Biggest of His AHL Career
[miptheme_quote author=”Barracuda head coach Roy Sommer ” style=”text-center”]For me, that was the biggest game I’ve coached since I’ve been in the American League. As far as for the organization, for what we’ve gone through this year. I’m just really happy that those guys get to go on and keep going.[/miptheme_quote]
Barracuda and Gulls Start Friday
The Barracuda have a quick turnaround this week and open the second round against the San Diego Gulls on Friday at SAP Center. The series will be in a 2-3-2 configuration with three sets of back-to-back games should all seven games be required.
Covering all manner of hockey on the West Coast, including the San Jose Sharks, San Jose Barracuda, Stockton Heat, WHL, and random prospect news and notes with random SM-Liiga coverage tossed in as well.