January 23, 2016
CEDAR PARK, TX – The San Diego Gulls fell behind the Texas Stars by two goals in the first period and were unable to recover late, falling by a final score of 5-2 in front of 5,460 fans at Cedar Park Center just north of Austin, Texas. San Diego completed their three-game Texas road trip with a 2-1-0 record, capturing four-of-six points.
Greg Rallo, Radek Faksa and Derek Hulak each netted a goal with two assists for the Stars (22-16-3-3), who held off San Diego’s attempt to overtake them in the AHL Pacific Division standings. Kenny Ryan and Simon Despres scored goals for the Gulls (19-17-1-1), who fell to 1-4-0 against the Stars this season.
Texas grabbed the lead 11:59 into the opening frame when Mattias Backman’s blue line drive deflected off the leg of the Gulls’ Mike Sgarbossa and directly between the pads of San Diego net-minder Anton Khudobin for a 1-0 lead.
The Stars’ second goal came off an unfortunate series of events for San Diego, as a shot wide of Khudobin’s net caromed off the end wall and back toward the crease. Khudobin attempted to freeze the puck with his glove on the ice, but instead saw it slide out of his grasp and directly toward the net, where Hulak merely had to tap home a sitter for a 2-0 advantage at 15:48.
San Diego had six power plays on the night against the Stars’ 29th ranked penalty kill unit, but managed just one tally on Simon Despres’ snapper from outside the circles, beating Texas goalie Maxime Legace high over the left shoulder for his first goal as a Gull, trimming the lead to 2-1 before first period’s end.
The second frame saw San Diego make a concerted comeback effort, out-shooting Texas 14-6 while controlling the puck. A pair of Gulls’ power play tries came up empty, and Radek Faksa’s goal on a 2-on-1 from the circles in, completing the pass from Rallo, put a back-breaking goal on the board to lift the Stars to a 3-1 lead with just 35 seconds left in the period.
Rallo’s power play tally early in the third gave Texas a 4-1 lead. San Diego would battle back on Kenny Ryan’s short-handed goal, his second of the season and third goal in four games. Harry Zolnierczyk was awarded a penalty shot 54 seconds later and had a chance to draw San Diego within one, but Legace’s left pad save dropped San Diego to 1-for-5 on penalty shots this season.
The Gulls pulled Khudobin for a sixth skater with five minutes remaining in the third but were unable to draw closer, and Brendan Ranford’s empty net goal sealed the scoring.
San Diego completed their Texas travel for the 2015-16 season with four wins in six tries in the Lone Star State. The Gulls return home and host the Ontario Reign on Friday, January 29.
NOTES: Brandon Montour and Shane O’Brien recorded lone assists for San Diego…Montour’s assist came on Despres’ power play goal, his AHL-best 23rd power play point and 19th assist…Ryan’s goal was the fourth short-handed goal scored by the Gulls this season…after a 3-0 start to his Gulls career in net, Anton Khudobin is 1-5-1 in his last seven starts…when conceding the first goal this year, the Gulls are 5-17-1-0…San Diego will play 18 of their final 30 games on home ice…the Gulls dropped to 10-12 on the road this season.
1st Star: TEX Greg Rallo (1-2=3); 2nd Star: TEX Derek Hulak (1-2=3); 3rd Star: TEX Radek Faksa (1-2=3)