By Thomas Harrington
After two games in San Jose, the Gulls and Barracuda find themselves tied at 1-1 in the best of seven series. San Diego’s game one victory was their first win in San Jose this season, but the Barracuda roared back with a convincing win in game two.
The Gulls absolutely stole game one. The Barracuda were a team on a mission in game one. They came out firing the puck early and often. San Jose’s powerplay really struggled in the first round against Stockton, but it’s found life against San Diego. The Barracuda received a powerplay less than two minutes into the game, and the Gulls were able to kill it off. However, they got another one about halfway through the first and were able to cash in this time, as Joakim Ryan gave San Jose the early 1-0 lead. San Jose kept up the pressure, but finally late in the period, San Jose took back to back penalties, giving San Diego a two-man advantage. At this point, the Gulls only had one shot on goal in the game. On the two-man advantage, Kalle Kossila was able to get San Diego on the board. The first ended with the score tied at one, but San Jose had a 14-2 shot advantage. The second was arguably the closest period of the game, as neither team scored and the Barracuda only had a 12-8 shot advantage. Both teams also failed on one powerplay in the middle frame. In the third, San Jose kept up the pressure that they had all game, and just over halfway through the period, Ryan Carpenter finally broke through, giving the Barracuda a 2-1 lead. A few minutes late, Nate Guenin fired a puck from the point and it somehow found its way through traffic and into the net, tying the game up. The third ended in a 2-2 tie and a 38-15 shot advantage for San Jose. Safe to say that Jhonas Enroth was San Diego’s best player in this one through 60 minutes. In overtime, things didn’t last long. Just 38 seconds into the extra session, and Kevin Roy ending things, giving the Gulls a 1-0 series lead.
Game two started much the same way that game one did, with San Jose dominating early. Less than five minutes into the game and Nick DeSimone gave Barracuda the early lead. A few minutes later, Carpenter scored on the power play, giving San Jose a 2-0 lead. After that goal, the Gulls found their game and after being outplayed early in the first, San Diego had the better of the play in the second half of the period. However, they weren’t able to find the back of the net. Just over a minute into the second, the Gulls gave up another early goal, as Buddy Robinson made it 3-0. A couple minutes later, Sam Carrick gave San Diego some life with his second goal of the postseason. Unfortunately, late in the second, Adam Helewka scored San Jose’s second power play of the contest, giving the Barracuda a 4-1 lead. In the third, Barclay Goodrow scored the only goal, and the Barracuda won 5-1 and tied the series at one game apiece.
Two games in and the Gulls are lucky to have a tied series. The biggest hurdle for the Gulls in this series is that they are without five of their best skaters: Corey Tropp, Ondrej Kase, Nic Kerdiles, Shea Theodore, and Brandon Montour. Four of them are in Anaheim, and Tropp has an upper-body injury and hasn’t played since game one against Ontario. If Anaheim were completely healthy, San Diego wouldn’t necessarily have all of them available, but they would certainly have a stronger roster. With the Sharks out of the playoffs, the Barracuda have a wealth of offensive talent, and it’s been on display throughout the playoffs.
There have been a few players that have stood out through the first two games of the series, for both good and bad reasons. The first has to be Enroth. He was under siege for two games in San Jose, and even though he was pulled in game two, he was San Diego’s best player in those two games. Roy has been dangerous whenever he’s had the puck. He doing a little too much one on one play, but he’s a highly skilled player who helps push the pace whenever he’s on the ice and had two points in game one. Kossila had two points in game one and looked good, but struggled through much of game two. Carrick has two points in this series, but he took too many penalties in game two. Finally, rookie, Max Jones is having a great series. He has yet to record any points but came so close to his first playoff goal in game two when a bad angle shot snuck through Troy Grosenick, but the defense cleared the puck out of the crease.
The Gulls will be getting a new player, as Alex Dostie has been signed to an ATO. Dostie, a 2016 fourth round pick, recently finished his fourth season in the QMJHL and scored 71 points in 63 games. He’s scored over 140 points in his last two seasons. At 20 years old, if he plays well enough, he can turn pro as early as next season. It will be interesting to see how much, if any, playing time he gets. Several Anaheim prospects have joined San Diego over the last month or so, but only Jones has seen significant playing time in the playoffs. Jack Kopacka has played in one game, while Tyler Soy and Deven Sideroff have yet to appear in any playoff games. Hopefully, he can help out San Diego’s offense, as the Gulls’ forwards have struggled in the first two games of this series. If Dostie does play, hopefully, it will help offset the loss of Carrick, as he was recalled to Anaheim earlier today.
For the Gulls to win this series, they will need great goaltending, stingy defense, and better special teams; San Jose is three for eight on the power play in this series while San Diego is just one for seven. The good news for the Gulls is that the next three games will be in San Diego. Game three is this Wednesday, game four is Friday, and game five will be on Saturday. Hopefully, the Gulls will be able to end this series and not have to travel back to San Jose for games six and seven.
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May 10th, 2017