Playing on their second night in a row, the San Jose Barracuda (P4) will need to regroup after a hard-luck loss to the Ontario Reign (P1) on Friday night. The ‘Cuda look to split their home portion of the schedule at one game apiece this evening at SAP Center, before heading down to Ontario for the duration of the series.
The teams played a relatively even matchup in Game 1, both in terms of statistics and on-ice play. Aaron Dell had to make the tougher saves of the two goaltenders but the Barracuda were very much in the game against their highly-favored opponents.
Down 1-0 to begin the third period, San Jose tied the game from a superb individual play from Nikita Jevpalovs, who has been filling in on the top line with right wing Petter Emanuelsson out injured. The Reign defense clamped down after that, leaving the Barracuda with just six shots on goal in the third. Late in the frame, Dell had a miscommunication with defensemen Karl Stollery and Julius Bergman while playing the puck behind the net. The Barracuda were able to recoup from the mishap initially, though still seemed to be shaken, and Ontario right wing Jonny Brodzinski potted the game-winning goal moments later.
The Barracuda will need to shake off the tough defeat, as they had to do against the Reign several other times in the regular season. It is estimated that the Barracuda lineup will likely see changes only to the fourth line. Frazer McLaren was inserted into Game 1 and had no positive effect. Even with Paul Bissonnette attempting to disturb the game in the second period, McLaren is still recovering from facial surgery and did nothing/could not do anything to dispel his antics. If Bissonnette plays again in Game 2, one would have to think that Alex Gallant would be in place of McLaren. If not, Gabryel Boudreau could make his professional hockey debut for more offense, having just been signed to an amateur tryout on Friday. The return of center Scott Timmins from personal issues was a pleasant surprise and much-needed, with Ryan Carpenter and John McCarthy as the only other natural centers on the roster.
Reign head coach Mike Stothers had mixed up his lines quite a bit in recent weeks but put his regular top line of Michael Mersch, Nic Dowd, and Sean Backman back together. This line may be one of the best in the American Hockey League and Dowd is one of the most underappreciated prospects in hockey. Like the Barracuda, the only lineup changes that could be possible would probably be to the Reign’s fourth line.
The Reign play heavy hockey in a similar mold to their parent club, the Los Angeles Kings. It wore down the Barracuda as the Game 1 moved into the latter stages and they seemed to lose steam. Early goals may be crucial for the ‘Cuda to hang in tonight’s game. If they cannot find a way to change up the Reign’s strategy, they may not have the stamina to keep up in a tie game or to come from behind.
Players to watch tonight:
Nikita Jevpalovs, San Jose – Finally showing confidence in recent weeks and starting to produce how most thought he would
Kurtis MacDermid, Ontario – Barracuda forwards struggled to overcome the defenseman’s 6′ 5″ frame in Game 1, in which he also scored
Valentin Zykov, Ontario (joke) – Was traded to Carolina two months ago and somehow continues to have a huge impact during SJ/ONT games, according to public address announcer Aaron Fonseca
|San Jose Barracuda||Ontario Reign||Advantage|
|31-26-11 (73 pts)||Record||44-19-5 (93 pts)||Reign|
|4th, Pacific||Div. Standing||1st, Pacific|
|3-6-1||Last 10 Games||6-4-0||Reign|
|15.4% (24th)||Power Play||16.0% (20th)||Reign|
|18.4% (19th)||Penalty Kill||88.7% (1st)||Reign|
|2.91 / gm||Goals For||2.82 / gm||Barracuda|
|2.84 / gm||Goals Against||2.03 / gm||Reign|
Barracuda Estimated Lineup
89 Goodrow – 40 Carpenter – 53 Jevpalovs
82 Goldobin – 86 Langlois – 21 Morin
11 Lerg – 17 McCarthy – 84 Parkes
79 Gallant/49 Boudreau – 77 Timmins – 71 Martin
70 Young – 47 Ryan
41 Mueller – 80 Tennyson
3 Stollery – 63 Bergman
Reign Estimated Lineup
27 Mersch – 26 Dowd – 16 Backman
9 Kempe – 7 Sutter – 12 J. Brodzinski
39 Auger – 11 Newbury – 21 Crescenzi
18 Samuels-Thomas – 28 Lowry – 24 Horvat
20 MacDermid – 5 LoVerde
55 Schultz – 33 Raine
3 Forbort – 4 Gravel/23 Ebert