Sabers split series with Roughnecks

by Lyanna Yeow

The San Diego Sabers took on the Bakersfield Roughnecks at Valley Children's Ice Center in a two-game series. The San Diego Sabers lost 8-5 on Friday, February 9, 2024, and won 6-5 in the shootout on Sunday, February 11, 2024. 

Friday, February 9, 2024

Game 1: Bakersfield Roughnecks 8, San Diego Sabers 5

The two-game series started with an unfortunate loss in game one with a final score of 8-5. It was not an easy battle for the Sabers as the Roughnecks took control and dominated over the first period and the last 10 minutes of the second period. The Sabers did come to life and made a great effort to make a comeback in the third period which was able to cut the deficit by 3 goals by the end of the game. 

The Roughnecks scored three goals in the first period against Sabers’ goaltender, Stepan Vedernikov. The Sabers received a high-sticking penalty; however, the Roughnecks were unable to score on the powerplay. Connor Dumesnil, the Roughnecks goaltender, faced 15 shots on net and did not let any slip past him while Vedernikov faced 13 shots on net and saved 10. The first period ended 3-0 in the Roughnecks’ favor. 

Sabers’ Tristan Frizado scored the first goal in the second period which was assisted by Justin Ouellet and Lukas Verstegen. The Roughnecks answered back a little over two minutes later after Frizado’s goal. The Sabers were able to score again at 10:14 with a goal by Aapo Jaakkola which was assisted by Tyler Riegle and Verstegen. Roughnecks were able to gain control over the rest of the second period and scored three goals making the score 7-2. Vedernikov saved 11 out of 15 shots while Dumesnil saved 20 out of 22 shots during the second period. 

The Sabers answered back when the Roughnecks scored the first goal of the third period. This goal by Ouellet was a powerplay goal assisted by Tim Gradin and Mario Paganini after the Roughnecks received a penalty for cross-checking. After Ouellet’s goal, the Sabers took control over the third period. With Roughnecks receiving an interference penalty at 13:37, Paganini scored the Sabers’ second powerplay goal which was assisted by Ryder Heskett and Matyas Toulec. The last goal scored by the Sabers during the third period was by Paganini who was assisted by Frizado and Gradin making the score 5-8. Both goaltenders faced 19 shots on goal during the third period. Sabers’ Loïc St-Denis-Lacombe was in the net for the remainder of the game and only let one Roughnecks goal slip past him while keeping the remaining 18 shots out. Dumesnil saved 16 shots on goal and let three Sabers goals past him and into the back of the net. In the end, the Sabers had 56 shots on goal while the Roughnecks had 47 shots on goal. 

Although the Sabers lost the first game of the two-game series, the last stretch during the third period to attempt to tie the game with the remaining 10 minutes of the third period was commendable. It may have not been enough to win the game however; they did end the game with a much closer score compared to the previous 50 minutes of the game. The Sabers also had a higher powerplay success rate compared to the Roughnecks as the Sabers scored on two out of three powerplays while the Roughnecks were unable to score on their 1 powerplay. This alone was an accomplishment for the Sabers especially since going into this game, the Roughnecks had a slight advantage over the Sabers in powerplay success rate (26.28% for BKR, 23.59% for SDS). The Roughnecks prior to game one also had a higher penalty killing percentage at 84.62% compared to Sabers’ 73.21% which was challenged as the Sabers were able to capitalize on two out of three powerplay opportunities during game one. Overall, despite the loss in game 1, their efforts during the second period and especially the third period did not go unnoticed. 

Sunday, February 11, 2024

Game 2: San Diego Sabers 6, Bakersfield Roughnecks 5

Game 2 in the two-game series was an exciting, close battle which ended with a Sabers win in the shootout. Despite both teams being unable to score during their powerplay opportunities, the game was still very intense as it remained tied until the Sabers were able win in the shootout making the final score 6-5. 

The Sabers remained quiet during the first period as they were unable to score any goals and did not receive any penalties. Loïc St-Denis-Lacombe was in the net for the Sabers and made 22 saves out of the 23 shots on goal by the Roughnecks. Connor Dumesnil, the Roughnecks goaltender, saved all of Sabers’ 14 shots on goal ending the first period 1-0 in the Roughnecks’ favor. 

The Roughnecks scored 31 seconds into the second period and kept their momentum as they scored another goal at 5:36. The Sabers scored their first goal of the second period at 6:32 as Verstegen was able to get the puck into the back of the net after being assisted by Gradin and Carson Weiner. Gradin would then score an unassisted goal at 10:09 making the score 3-2, still in the Roughnecks’ favor. The Roughnecks would score again with about 2 minutes left of the period, making the score 4-2. St-Denis-Lacombe faced 26 shots while Dumesnil faced 11 shots on goal. 

Sabers’ Paganini scored the first goal of the third period at 4:23 which was assisted by Frizado and Therrien making the score 4-3. The Roughnecks would then score again at 8:31 making it 5-3 but their two goal lead was short lived as the Sabers were able to answer back with a goal by Ryder Heskett, assisted by Paganin and Ouellet which cut the deficit by one goal (5-4). Sabers' Ouellet tied the game at 18:50 with a goal which was assisted by Zach Hawley and Paganini. St-Denis-Lacombe was able to hold down the fort and keep the third period tied, forcing the game to go into overtime. By the end of the third period, St-Denis-Lacombe faced 18 shots while Dumesnil faced 10 shots on goal. 

Both goaltenders remained solid during overtime as they did not allow any goals to slip past them. After five minutes, the Roughnecks had 0 shots on goal while the Sabers had 3 shots on goal. 

With a scoreless overtime, this led to an intense shootout with St-Denis-Lacombe and Dumesnil still in the net. Sabers’ Gradin had the first shootout attempt of the game and scored a goal against Dumesnil. Roughnecks’ top scorer, Theo Faucher, was unable to get the puck past St-Denis-Lacombe during his shootout attempt. Frizado, the Sabers’ second top scorer was sent on the ice to do the next shootout attempt and was able to seal the deal making it 2-0 in the shootout as he scored against Dumesnil. After Frizado’s goal, St-Denis-Lacombe continued to be a brick wall and did not let Roughnecks’ Adrian Gomez’s shot get past him; securing the first shootout win for the Sabers. By the end of the game the Sabers had 39 shots on goal while the Roughnecks had 67 shots on goal.

Although the Sabers did have a rough start, they were able to not only make a comeback but also win their first game against the Roughnecks and secure their first shootout win of the season after an intense, close game. 

The Sabers will continue to carry their momentum from this win to help drive their determination and vengeance during their final match-ups against the Ontario Jr. Reign on Friday, February 16 at 8:40 PM PST at Ontario Center Ice Arena and Saturday, February 17 at 8:00 PM PST at Icetown Carlsbad.