(Originally published at Sports Radio Service)
SAN JOSE– The San Jose Barracuda climbed a little closer to a playoff spot with a 4-2 win over the Bakersfield Condors. Petter Emanuelsson scored two goals for San Jose, while John McCarthy scored the game winner and Jeremy Morin added an insurance goal into an empty net. Joel Rumpel made 24 saves for the Barracuda in his first AHL game. After the win, he said that he was “a little bit nervous before the game. But the guys let me feel the first couple from the outside, so it was easy from there.”
The teams took ten penalties in the first two periods alone, not counting fighting majors. The only goal scored during any of those penalties was a short-handed goal by Bakersfield’s Jujhar Khaira. After the game, John McCarthy explained how that takes a toll on a team, even when the penalty kill is successful:
It kind of gets in way of the flow of the game. We’re not really rolling our lines when that happens so that’s something we’ve got to work on going forward. I think even last game, first period we took too any penalties. There’s a lot of guys who aren’t killing penalties then they’re kind of out of the flow of the game.
Some players, though, thrive on the penalty kill. After the game, assistant coach Ryan Mougenel said of McCarthy:
One of Mac’s biggest strengths is the penalty kill. I think it’s really kind of translated into his offense. Sometimes it’s little things, like some guys at practice have to watch pucks go in the net to have success, to score, like Goldobin. He [McCarthy] builds his confidence through the pk and he’s one of our most consistent guys.
The penalties started early and came often after that. The first was a cross-checking penalty to Bakersfield’s Rob Klinkhammer at 4:18. San Jose had a couple of shots and the Condors only cleared the puck once, but the Barracuda could not get a puck past goaltender Eetu Laurikainen.
That came a few seconds after the penalty expired. It was not a beautiful zone entry, but the Condors fumbled an interception at their blue line, putting the puck in front of Petter Emanualsson. He got moving quickly and before the defenders could get after him, he had taken his shot and scored.
Half way through the first period, the shots were 9-5 Barracuda. The shots stayed that way even when the Condors scored the tying goal. A strange bounce sent the puck into the blue paint, off of a body and into the net, surprising even the Bakersfield player who was on his way behind the net to collect the puck. The goal went to Mitch Moroz, with an assist to Dillon Simpson.
Fighting majors took Gus Young and Kale Kessy out of the game for five at 12:04. Karl Stollery and Andrew Miller joined their teammates in the box with coincidental minors for slashing and roughing respectively.
Bakersfield’s Jujhar Khaira thought had scored the go-ahead goal, but he had done so over the prone body of the Barracuda goalie. Rumpel was thus prone only because Dillon Simpson had skated into and fallen over him seconds earlier. The goal was disallowed for goaltender interference and the Barracuda got a power play. The final 30 seconds of that power play were amplified into a five on three when Matthew Ford also went to the box, this time for cross-checking.
The Barracuda found themselves on the other end of a five on three early in the second period. At 1:43, Nikolay Goldobin went to the box for tripping. Just under 90 seconds later, Stollery joined him after being called for interference. San Jose escaped the penalties unscathed, and drove the play to the other end to rebuild their shot lead.
By the middle of the second period, the Barracuda again had the shot lead at 22-18, and again took the lead on the scoreboard. A good rush from Ryan Carpenter on the wing and Petter Emanuelsson up the middle beat the Condors to the punch. Assists went to Carpenter and Gus Young.
The Condors responded by taking an interference penalty. Kessy had been in the box for less than a minute when Khaira won a race to the puck and went all the way down the ice to tie the game again. Kessy got out of the box just long enough to take two more penalties and sit for four minutes, called for high-sticking and unsportsmanlike conduct.
With 2:30 left in the four minute power play, the Barracuda lost Jevpalovs to a penalty. With less than two minutes left in the Bakersfield penalty, Jeremy Langlois went to the box for kneeing, putting the Barracuda down 3-4. San Jose weathered that too, but had squandered a perfectly good power play.
The Barracuda were back on the penalty kill less than two minutes into the third period. Julius Bergman went to the box for holding at 1:06.
Eventually, the penalties burned themselves out and with just over four minutes left, John McCarthy won the race to a puck as it exited the Barracuda zone: “I think somebody was catching up to me on my inside so I didn’t have time to move it to my forehand and shoot. So I just got it to the net and hopefully if it didn’t go in maybe we would have got a second whack at it. But it went in.” It squeaked by on the short side, bouncing off of the goaltender’s back. Assists went to Parkes and Stollery.
The Condors pulled their goaltender withe less than 90 seconds remaining and Morin scored the empty netter with six seconds to go.
The Barracuda next play on Wednesday at 7:00 PT against the Heat in Stockton.