By: Joe Lami
SAN JOSE, Calif.–
The San Jose Barracuda dropped the puck for the first time in a 4-2 loss to the Rockford Ice Hogs on Friday night. Nearly 7,000 fans attended SAP Center to get a first look at the new Sharks’ American League affiliate.
“We’re thrilled with the fans turnout tonight. I hope this keeps happening. We’re trying to make this a winning environment here and be the next big team,” said captain Bryan Lerg.
Rockford jumped on the board early, opening the scoring at just 1:01 into the contest. Tanner Karo ripped a wrister past the glove of San Jose goaltender Troy Grosenick for his first of the season. Karo, the first star of the night, finished with three points as he added another goal and an assist. The Michigan native is going into his first full professional season and is already off to a hot start.
Karo played in just six regular season games last season for the Ice Hogs scoring five goals after scoring 46 points in 41 games for Michigan Tech. The undrafted prospect is off to a great start in his pro career, making his chances of eventually making the NHL extremely high even if it’s not with the Chicago Blackhawks.
29 year-old alternate captain, Michael Haley scored the first goal of the Barracuda franchise, as he cut the deficit to 2-1 with just 13 seconds left in the opening period. He went five-hole from the slot, beating Michael Leighton on the power play. “It was good to get the first one out of the way,” said Haley. Nikita Jevpalous and Scott Timmins picked up the helpers on the tally. Haley was awarded the second star of the night as he added an assist on San Jose’s second goal, finishing with a two-point contest.
Lerg tied things up in the second period on a power-play goal 6:34 into the frame. He took a pass from Mirco Mueller out of the corner and into the high slot and hammered a slap shot past Leighton. The second period ended at a 2-2 tie after lackluster performances from both sides in the final ten minutes.
Rockford came out firing in the third and completely took over the game, scoring two goals in just over four minutes, putting the game away. Karo added his second of the night at 4:45 to make it 3-2 and his linemate, Jeremy Morin scored his first of the night at 8:47. San Jose’s had loads of trouble stopping Rockford’s first line, as they combined seven points. “That was their best line, Karo and Dano, it was tough trying to keep them off the board,” added coach, Roy Sommer
On a bright note, the special teams for the Barracuda had an outstanding night, going five for five on the penalty kill and two for four of the powerplay. “We had a lot of work on the power play and penalty kill this week, so I think that showed,” added Lerg. “The power play moved it around a bit and the penalty kill was alright, but we didn’t have the sustained offense we needed,” commented Sommer.
Grosenick also stood strong making 37 saves on 41 attempts. “I thought he was good. He kept us in it in the first and that gave us an opportunity,” added Sommer.
The Barracuda return to action on Thursday, as they travel to Stockton for the first of 12 matchups this season.