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San Jose Barracuda

Halbgewachs Overcoming Hip Injury, Racking Up Points



Credit: San Jose Barracuda

After a three-week absence due to a hip injury, Jayden Halbgewachs has returned to score four points in three straight games with the Barracuda.

The injury, which Halbgewachs said was nagging him even before he sat out, and the pandemic-shortened 2019-20 season, makes it tough to think about what could have been for the the 24-year-old.

Last year, Halbgewachs was on pace to score 40-plus points for the Barracuda. With his improved point production in his second year in San Jose, Halbgewachs said he felt a call-up to the San Jose Sharks was a possibility.

“There was talk, but you never know,” Halbgewachs told San Jose Hockey Now Monday. “If I kept going the way I was, then yeah, I think [a call-up] was definitely in question.”

The 5-foot-8 left-winger had to settle for back-to-back 35-point seasons with the Barracuda and an extended summer.

“Going into this off-season, with some uncertainty as to what was going on, made me want to push to make that jump this season,” Halbgewachs said.

However, a developing hip injury hampered last year’s Barracuda goals leader. Halbgewachs scored just three goals in the first nine games and was held pointless for the next eight.

“I kind of hit my point where I reached out and said there’s something wrong here,” Halbgewachs said of his injury. “We found out what’s wrong and I’ve been doing a lot of rehab, putting in a lot of long days.”

Halbgewachs sat out for 10 games to recover.

“I think rest, the rehab, and all the soft tissue work got me as close to as a hundred percent as I could be,” Halbgewachs said. “Obviously I was pushing to play a little quicker, but at the same time, I think they gave me a few extra days so I’m performing at my best to finish the year.”

When Halbgewachs finally returned Apr. 21, he was paired with the team’s top players— Joachim Blichfeld and Alexander True. After a 22-day break, Halbgewachs earned his first assist of the season by setting up True.

Halbgewachs said he viewed his top-line position as a vote of confidence from head coach Roy Sommer.

“I think for [Sommer] to put me right back where I left off meant a lot,” Halbgewachs said. “It helps with the confidence, and having my feet under me now, obviously helps. I’ve got to keep earning my spot.”

The next game, Halbgewachs played with rookies Scott Reedy and Jake McGrew. The trio scored three goals to power the Barracuda offense in a 4-2 win against the Reign. Halbgewachs recorded a goal and an assist, while Reedy and McGrew also added a goal each.

“I think they’re just simple players,” Halbgewachs said. “It’s nice to play with simple guys that just throw pucks on net and go hard to the paint. It makes my job a little easier. I think it was just the right blend and we were all playing well.”

Halbgewachs has also joined the first power play unit. He cleaned up a rebound for a power play goal Tuesday night. It was sorely needed, as the Barracuda are now 1-of-16 on the man advantage through the last four games.

With the season winding down, an opportunity with the San Jose Sharks seems out of the picture for Halbgewachs, but he still has time to make an impression for next year. The winger’s contract expires next year.

Third Period Push Leads to Cuda Win

A three-point night for Sasha Chmelevski propelled the Barracuda to a 4-2, come-from-behind win against the Bakersfield Condors Tuesday night.

Chmelevski recorded one goal, two assists, and a quick fight in a penalty-filled game. The Barracuda (14-11-4-2) recorded 32 penalty minutes while the Condors (19-11-0-1) racked up 55 penalty minutes.

Special teams accounted for the first three goals of the game, with the Condors opening the scoring on the power play five minutes into the first period.

Halbgewachs cleaned up a rebound for a power play goal, assisted by Joel Kellman and Sasha Chmelevski, to tie the game.

But Bakersfield scored on another power play to re-take a 2-1 lead late in the first period.

Both teams went scoreless in the second period, with the Barracuda unable to convert on a full two-minute 5-on-3 power play opportunity.

With eight minutes left in the third period, Ivan Chekhovich slid a backdoor pass to Jake McGrew, who tied the game at 2-2. Maxim Letunov also earned an assist. McGrew has four points in the last two games, helping break Letunov’s five-game pointless drought.

Less than a minute later, Chmelevski connected with Kellman on another backdoor feed for San Jose’s first lead of the game. Nicolas Meloche also earned an assist, his seventh of the year. In his first Barracuda game since Apr. 11 due to being called up to the San Jose Sharks, Kellman’s goal was the eventual game-winner.

Chmelevski completed his three-point night by banking in an empty-net goal off a Condor.

Alexei Melnichuk made 22 saves in the 4-2 win. Fredrik Händemark also returned to the Barracuda after a stint on the Sharks taxi squad.

The Barracuda play back-to-back games against the Henderson Silver Knights starting Friday at SAP Center.

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