Meier Responds to Reassignment By Scoring Two Goals, Propelling ‘Cuda to Victory
SAN JOSE — Sharks coach Peter DeBoer expressed disappointment in his team’s depth players inability to step up and fill the void left by injuries to Joe Thornton and Logan Couture during its 3-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks Tuesday night.
He didn’t name names, but it doesn’t take a stretch of the imagination to assume that rookie Timo Meier was near the top of the list of players he was displeased with. Meier was nearly invisible in 10:57 of ice time, producing just one shot on goal while extending his goalless streak to 10 games.
On Wednesday, the Sharks reassigned Meier to the Barracuda (42-14-7), and he responded by scoring a pair of goals which fueled the team to a 5-1 win over the Ontario Reign (33-20-10) at the SAP Center.
“I don’t know if he said that in the media. I don’t really listen to that stuff too much,” Meier said, referring to DeBoer’s postgame comments. “I just came down here, wanted to help the team get a win, wanted to play a good game in all three zones.”
Meier was all over the puck just 24 hours after his disappointing showing against the Canucks in the same building. He recorded five shots on goal and scored twice, including the opening tally in the middle of the second period, which ensured that a 14-1 shot advantage in the game’s opening 10 minutes didn’t go to waste.
The Swiss rookie notched the first goal by picking the puck off the side wall and firing it into the top-right shelf at 9:52 of the second. He scored again just 6:40 later, slapping a backhander into a yawning net after a Danny O’Regan shot was blocked in front.
“Luck hasn’t been too much with me this year,” Meier said. “They’re going to go in sometimes. If you have the lane, just try to test the goalie.”
Head coach Roy Sommer, who said he received a good 60th birthday present with the win, is hoping that Meier’s reassignment with the Barracuda winds up having the same effect that Chris Tierney’s two-game stint with the club had last season.
Tierney recorded three points in two games with the Barracuda in January 2016 before going on to play a key role in the Sharks run to the Stanley Cup Final.
“That’s what our league’s all about,” Sommer said. “When Tierney came down last year he put a couple good games together, kind of got his game going. He had a little fun, it was a little different, and then he went up and he was lights out.”
“Hopefully that happens to [Meier].”
After peppering the Reign with shots throughout the first and most of the second, the dam finally broke after T.J. Hensick cut the Barracuda’s lead to 2-1 at the 7:08 mark of the third.
Tim Heed started the fun by notching his 14th of the season on a blast from the right point with help from Adam Helewka at 12:31. After that, Buddy Robinson recorded his 15th goal by cutting across the crease video game style and slipping in a backhander with 4:03 left on the clock.
The third line scored again just 48 seconds later when Helewka snapped his 17-game goalless drought by going hard to the net on a 2-on-1 and hammering home a saucer feed from Rourke Chartier.
“We knew if we just stuck with it, got pucks to the net, got bodies to the net, then we’d eventually bang a few in,” Helewka said.
Sommer commended Helewka for breaking out of his streak by following the coaching staff’s instructions.
“I just showed him stuff right before the game, holding onto pucks too long, taking himself out of scoring positions,” Sommer said. “Hey, he went to the net and he was rewarded.”
With the win and the San Diego Gulls loss to the Stockton Heat, the Barracuda stretched their lead in the Pacific Division to six points with just five games left on the schedule.
Sommer called the third line of Chartier, Robinson and Helewka, which combined for five points, the team’s “go to” since Robinson joined the team on Jan. 27.
“That’s one constant we’ve had these whole two months,” he said.