San Jose, CA - The San Jose Barracuda (1-0-0-0) and Ontario Reign (0-1-0-0) opened up the 2018-19 American Hockey League season on Friday evening. The cross-California rivals tangled for eight matchups last year, with the Reign boasting a 5-2-1 record in games against the Barracuda. The two teams met for their first of eight matchups during the 2018-19 season on Friday.
Both teams were slow to get going in the first few minutes of the contest, but eventually, San Jose kicked it into gear in a major way. The Barracuda scored a pair of goals in less than four minutes during the first period, with San Jose rookie Dylan Gambrell (1, 2), lighting the lamp two times in period number one. The Barracuda would add one more before the conclusion of the first, with Gambrell attempting a wraparound goal, only to have Francis Perron (1) slam it home behind Reign netminder Cal Peterson. The Barracuda dominated the period, outshooting the Reign 14-7.
The Reign would flip the script in the second period, thanks in part to two stick infractions taken by the Barracuda. The Reign registered the first seven shots of the period to draw the shot count even at 14. During a power play the Reign recorded shot number 15, and finally bested Barracuda goaltender Antoine Bibeau. Zack Mitchell (1) redirected a slapshot from the blueline past Bibeau to bring the score to 3-1 with 13:30 to go in the second. Despite dictating the play in the second, the Reign would surrender a goal with 4:18 remaining in the 2nd period. Barracuda rookie Maxim Letunov (1) rang a backhander off of the near post and in to beat Peterson and give the Barracuda a 4-1 lead. The Reign outshot San Jose 18-7 in the middle frame but entered the locker room chasing the same three-goal deficit.
The Barracuda took a tripping penalty early in the third, but the subsequent kill helped to shift the play back into their favor. The first half of the third period was void of action as the Barracuda were not able to muster up a shot for the first 12 minutes and 30 seconds of the period. There was no action to report during the third until an array of penalties were taken. With 6:52 remaining in the game, Reign defenseman Kurtis MacDermid took a two-minute instigating penalty, and a five-minute fighting penalty, which led to a 10-minute game misconduct. This penalty effectively ended the Reign's bid for a comeback, as they were forced to kill a penalty for the remainder of the third period. From the end of the first period through the end of the game the Reign outshot the Barracuda 24-13, but Bibeau's strong performance preserved San Jose's win.
Gambrell had an exciting Barracuda debut as he had two goals and one assist all of which occurred in the first period. Francis Perron also got on the scoresheet twice, as he tallied a goal and an assist in his debut with the 'Cuda. The Barracuda and Reign will shelve their rivalry until their next meeting on the 16th of December. However, the Barracuda are in action again tomorrow night, as they travel to do battle with the Bakersfield Condors. You can catch that game at 7:00 PM Saturday live on 1220 AM KDOW or online via AHLTV.com.