San Jose Barracuda
Jaros Happy to Have Fresh Start, Merkley Nets 1st Pro Goal
In a normal season, playing for the Barracuda would provide the benefit of practicing around the San Jose Sharks. But with COVID-19 protocols preventing that possibility, it seems that if Christian Jaros wants to meet the Sharks, he will have to earn a call-up to the NHL.
“Yeah, [that’s] probably the fastest way to meet them,” Jaros said Friday morning. “But first of all, I have to play good here, so they have a reason to call me up.”
The 24-year-old was acquired from the Ottawa Senators on Jan. 27. Through three seasons, Jaros appeared in 76 games for Ottawa and 79 games for Belleville. He and Jacob Middleton have been the Barracuda’s second defense pairing for the past six games. They also hold down the top penalty kill unit.
“I think we have good communication on the ice,” Jaros said. “We both play simple hockey, so it’s fun. We talk a lot, we support each other, and it’s been awesome so far.”
Jaros was set to join the Barracuda in Tucson Feb. 19, but the team’s next four games were postponed due to COVID-19 protocols. He made his Barracuda debut Feb. 28. It was Jaros’ first game in more than a year, as a result of being traded before the season and having to wait out mandatory quarantine for entering the U.S. from Canada. However, Jaros said the break helped him come into San Jose with a clean slate.
“I kind of forgot about the system we were playing in Ottawa,” Jaros said. “I think it was positive for me that I hadn’t played in games. When they explained the new system, it was easier for me to take it in.”
Jaros earned his first point as a Barracuda when Karlis Cukste tipped in his shot from the point Mar. 5. He tallied another assist by setting up Noah Gregor’s goal just 11 seconds into the game Mar. 9.
Being traded to San Jose also reunited Jaros with former teammate and roommate, Rudolfs Balcers. The Sharks claimed Balcers off of waivers from the Senators Jan. 12.
“I chat with him pretty much every other day,” Jaros said. In Ottawa, he and Balcers had been housemates and spent much of Christmas and the pre-training camp quarantine together.
“It was pretty fun when when I got traded to San Jose, and I told him ‘Hey, we’ll probably spend another Christmas together.'”
Merkley scores as Barracuda winless in Bakersfield
San Jose lost back-to-back games in Bakersfield this weekend.
On Friday, the Barracuda put the first seven shots on goal, but the Condors scored on their first shot and never looked back. Bakersfield added three more goals before Alexander True scored halfway through the third period. Jaycob Megna and Noah Gregor assisted on San Jose’s lone goal in the 4-1 loss.
Playing on the fourth line, San Jose Sharks 2020 fourth-round draft pick Brandon Coe made his professional debut. The 19-year-old has been with the Barracuda all season while waiting to rejoin the North Bay Battalion of the Ontario Hockey League.
The Barracuda then let a late lead slip away in Saturday’s 3-2 overtime loss. Goaltender Josef Korenar started, making his first appearance after winning back-to-back games against the Ontario Reign Feb. 27. Alexei Melnichuk, who played Friday’s game, replaced Korenar on the San Jose Sharks taxi squad Saturday morning.
Bakersfield opened the scoring again, but Ryan Merkley patiently skated the puck behind the Condors’ net and chipped in a backhand goal. Merkley’s first professional goal, assisted by True and Noah Gregor, tied the game. San Jose’s 2018 first-round draft pick has four points through the last four games.
Ryan Merkley's first professional goal. Also has five assists this year. #SJSharks pic.twitter.com/9zpxBdjY5Z
— Brian Truong (@_BrianTruong) March 14, 2021
After the Condors regained the lead, True and Gregor set up another game-tying goal. Joachim Blichfeld snapped in a rebound to score his team-high seventh goal of the year. True scored three minutes later to take a late 3-2 lead.
But with 46 seconds left in the third period, Bakersfield forward and AHL scoring leader Cooper Marody scored on a one-timer to complete his hat trick. After San Jose couldn’t convert on an overtime power play, Ryan McLeod scored to complete the 4-3 Bakersfield win.
The Barracuda will host the Condors for another two games Mar. 16 and 17 inside SAP Center.
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