Barracuda Stun Gulls With Third Period Comeback

San Jose Comeback Stuns Gulls

Barracuda score four times in the third period to skate away with the win

Dec 20, 2019

The San Jose Barracuda scored four unanswered goals in the third period to shock the Gulls in 4-2 contests tonight at Pechanga Arena San Diego. The Gulls held a 1-0 lead through two periods courtesy of a Blake Pietila power-play goal, but the four Barracuda tallies before Jack Kopacka’s late goal for San Diego were the difference as the Gulls opened the first of back-to-back matchups before the AHL’s holiday break.


“It’s a tough one to swallow for sure,” said Jani Hakanpaa. “Feels like we were in it the whole game and we were battling out there. We were sticking together and then a few unlucky bounces. It’s unfortunate.”


A couple of Gulls forwards reached milestones tonight as Chase De Leo played in his 300th career AHL game and Alex Dostie appeared in his 100th AHL contest.


San Jose’s Thomas Gregoire was sent to the box for interference midway through the opening frame followed by a Trevor Carrick tripping minor to give San Diego a two-man advantage for 50 seconds. The Gulls got two shots on net before the first penalty expired, but as the second penalty was expiring, Brendan Guhle received a pass at the point and pushed the puck across to Ryan Johnston at the top of the right circle. The diminutive defenseman took the puck to the circle on the right of Andrew Shortidge and shot it at the netminder who made a pad save, sending the puck across the front of the net and Pietila jumped at the rebound and hit the back of the net with a wrist shot before Shortridge was unable to recover.


Pietila’s score 13:16 into the period marked his fifth goal of the season and his second on the man advantage. Johnston picked up his second helper of the season, both of which have been recorded against San Jose. With the other assist, Guhle has posted a point in five of his last seven games (1-5=6).


After 20 minutes of play, San Jose edged San Diego in shots 12-11, but the Gulls held a one-goal advantage going into the first intermission.


San Diego killed three minor penalties in the middle frame to hold an opponent scoreless for only the second time through 40 minutes.


“When I’ve seen him play, he’s been unreal for us,” said Hakanpaa on Stolarz. “It really helps us out as defensemen to have a guy like that back in the net, who you know is going to make some unreal saves. We have to help him out a little bit more and go from there.”


San Jose got on the scoreboard 5:32 into the final period with Joachim Blichfeld goal to knot the game at one goal apiece. Defenseman Nick DeSimone walked the puck through the neutral zone and passed it to Alexander True as they entered the Gulls zone, with True dishing the puck across the ice to Blichfeld who evened the score at one goal apiece from the right circle


Barracuda defenseman Keaton Middleton netted San Jose’s go-ahead goal 4:22 later. A turnover behind San Diego’s net led to a Barracuda attempt at goal. Stolarz stopped the initial shot by Jayden Halbgewachs, and an attempted clear was controlled by Nicolas Meloche and found an open Middleton in the shot whose wrist the shot found the back of the net through traffic.


San Jose gained a two-goal lead thanks to Halbgewachs with 1:51 left in the game. Halbgewachs entered the offensive zone and gave the puck to Dylan Gambrell with a turnaround pass. Gambrell walked the puck deeper into the zone while Stolarz was knocked off balance in the crease, losing his stick. Gambrell passed the puck back to Halbgewachs who shot the puck over Stolarz, who was unable to recover.


The Gulls pulled Stolarz for an extra attacker with just over a minute remaining in regulation. The Barracuda capitalized on the empty net opportunity to extend their lead to three goals with 39 seconds left in regulation. After an attempt at the net in the San Jose zone, forward True gained cleared the zone and sent the puck toward the San Diego goal. Mahura chased the puck down the ice, but the puck crossed the goal line before his sliding attempt could negate the puck crossing the goal line.


Kopacka rounded out the scoring with just under two seconds on the clock with Jonny Brodzinski serving a tripping minor. Kopacka took the puck out of the corner following a dump-in by Chris Wideman,  and lifted a shot over the glove of Shortridge for his fourth goal of 2019-20.


“It’s a quick turnaround and the last game before the break,” said head coach Kevin Dineen. “We have to forget about this one and get after a good start tomorrow and hopefully we can go into the break feeling good about ourselves.”


“You’ve got a game coming up and sometimes that’s the best medicine after a tough loss is to get right back at it,” added head coach Kevin Dineen. “We have a good team coming in and we have to be ready for them.”


The Gulls conclude their three-game homestand tomorrow vs. the Stockton Heat at Pechanga Arena San Diego (7 p.m., TV: FOX 5 San Diego).

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