Jan. 19, 2018

Brandon Mashinter’s goal at 5:38 of the third period erased a spirited San Diego Gulls comeback, as the San Jose Barracuda held on for a 3-2 victory in front of a sellout crowd of 12,920 at Valley View Casino Center on Friday night. Kevin Roy scored a pair of goals for the Gulls (20-16-1-0, 41 pts.), who saw a nine-game regular season home win streak over San Jose come to an end.

“We gave them two goals, the first one and the third one,” said Gulls head coach Dallas Eakins. “On any night, you can’t gift a team two goals, it’s going to come back and bite you.”

San Diego rallied from a 2-0 deficit to start the third period on goals from Roy at 3:26 and 5:24 of the frame, the latter on the power play to equalize 2-2. Just fourteen seconds later, Mashinter swiveled on a loose puck turnover fed up the slot of the Gulls’ zone from back dasher, one-timing the puck low through Reto Berra (43 saves) for the eventual game-winner.

“We’ve got to do a better job of playing sixty minutes and take care of the puck,” said Roy after the contest. “The big thing is we’re back tomorrow against the same team so we can go back to work.”

Continuing a trend which saw them levy 94 shots on net against the Gulls in a pair of earlier January contests, the San Jose Barracuda (18-16-0-2) came out firing early and often, peppering the San Diego net for 18 first period shots. The first goal for San Jose came on a turnover inside the Gulls’ blue line, pounced upon by Filip Sandberg skating in on left wing. Berra stopped Sandberg’s initial bid only to find Barracuda defenseman Radim Simek net front. Simek slid home his third goal of the season at 8:15 for a 1-0 San Jose lead.

The Gulls brought their AHL top-ranked power play to the ice in the second period, only to fall further behind. On their first man advantage of the night as San Jose’s Cavan Fitzgerald sat for interference, San Diego worked the puck around the offensive zone in close quarters. A pass for Sam Carrick high middle in the zone was tipped but not controlled, allowing Simek to grab the loose puck with his stick and skate forward on a partial breakaway. The play developed into a 2-on-1, and while the initial shot was saved, Marcus Sorensen found the rebound outside right post and put home his sixth goal of the season for a 2-0 Barracuda lead at 8:49 of the frame.

San Diego picked up the pressure as the period continued and put fifteen shots on AHL All-Star goalie Antoine Bibeau, but with pad, blocker and glove Bibeau found multiple ways to confound the Gulls’ attack, including sitting on a loose puck scramble mid-period.

The third period began with the Gulls pushing the zone and seeking to capitalize on loose pucks. Dennis Rasmussen stole the puck from inside right point and found Kevin Roy jumping off the bench for a weaving skate toward the slot. As Roy veered toward left wing, he shot back through the five-hole of San Jose AHL All-Star net-minder Antoine Bibeau (27 saves on 29 shots faced) for his seventh goal of the season.

Less than a minute later, a slashing penalty on Barracuda captain John McCarthy gave the Gulls the opportunity to equalize. Skating in on left wing, Kalle Kossila’s wrist shot smacked the left post and caromed to right circle, where Roy wrested his stick from around a Barracuda defenseman and slotted home his second straight and eighth of the year for the game-tying goal at 5:24. Corey Tropp was also awarded an assist on the goal.

San Diego appeared to net another game-tying goal minutes later, only to see the score waved off when the referee lost sight of the puck. A late power play and vacated net strived in vain to find another leveling score, as San Jose improved to 2-2-0 on the season against San Diego.

“The referee made a mistake. He lost sight of the puck, it was still loose,” explained Eakins of the controversial no-goal. “It’s a good goal, but his job is, and he couldn’t see it, so an honest mistake by the referee.”

The Gulls conclude their weekend back-to-back against the Barracuda on Diversity Night at Valley View Casino Center (7 p.m., ESPN 1700-AM). Former Gull Willie O’Ree, celebrating the 60th anniversary of breaking the league’s color barrier, is scheduled to participate in the ceremonial puck drop prior to the game.

Three Stars:
1. Radim Simek (SJ)
2. Kevin Roy (SD)
3. Daniel O’Regan (SJ)