February 27, 2016
SAN DIEGO – Nic Kerdiles and Chris Wagner scored two goals apiece as the San Diego Gulls increased their points streak to five straight games with a 5-2 win over the San Jose Barracuda at Valley View Casino Center. A crowd of 9,678 saw the Gulls (27-20-1-2) improve to 6-1-1-1 against San Jose, moving all alone into third place in the AHL’s Pacific Division.
Anton Khudobin, peppered for 21 shots in the second period, stopped 41 of the 43 he faced overall, improving to 11-6-2 in net for the Gulls. Khudobin’s hot February mirrored the Gulls’ success, going 7-1-1 with a 2.20 goals-against average and .931 save percentage.
The Barracuda (23-18-6-3) had a pair of quality chances midway through the opening frame to grab the night’s first goal, the best being Jeremy Langlois alone point blank in front of the crease, but San Jose could not hit the net when it counted.
Brian McGrattan opened the scoring for the Gulls with a high quality goal, picking the puck out of mid-air inside the blue line between two defenders. McGrattan freed himself outside the right circle for a hard wrist shot, beating San Jose goalie Troy Grosenick for his seventh goal of the season at 13:21.
Just 1:08 later, it was Nic Kerdiles electrifying the crowd with a spin-around blind shot from the left circle, slapping the puck high past a stunned Grosenick for his ninth goal of the season and second in as many games. The Gulls led 2-0 after twenty minutes.
The second period saw San Jose creep closer on John McCarthy’s second chance rebound score, coming on a Barracuda power play to narrow the score to 2-1 at the 11:03 mark. San Jose spent much the period firing shots at Khudobin, who made 20 of his 41 saves in the period.
The hard work of the Barracuda was erased by more Kerdiles sniping, as the ex-Wisconsin forward ripped a shot from the high slot over Grosenick’s left shoulder and through the back of the net. The puck exited the net so quickly it forced a video review, which confirmed Kerdiles’ second score of the night and tenth of the season, answering the San Jose goal just 33 seconds later.
Chris Wagner, working net-front on a late Gulls power play in the second period, scooped home a rebound goal to make it 4-1 San Diego on assists from Shane O’Brien and Korbinian Holzer. Wagner closed the night’s scoring with an empty netter at 18:09, after Trevor Parkes’ goal for San Jose 26 seconds into the third period made the game interesting for a while.
San Diego clinched the season series against the Barracuda while improving to 57 points and a .570 points percentage through 50 games played. The Gulls climbed within .032 in points percentage of the Texas Stars for second place in the Pacific Division, while increasing their lead for a playoff spot to .033 over the Charlotte Checkers and .039 over the Bakersfield Condors.
San Diego continues a four-game homestand on Friday night when they welcome the Stockton Heat into town for a back-to-back weekend series.
NOTES: First goal won again; the team scoring the night’s first goal has gone on to win the game in twenty straight Gulls games, 25 of the last 26 and 36 of the last 38…Gulls forward Ondrej Kase left the game early in the second period and did not return…Chris Mueller and Stefan Noesen had two assists each for San Diego…Mueller leads the Gulls with (2-8=10) points in nine games against the Barracuda…for the first time in nine games between San Diego and San Jose, the road team left without securing a point.
1st Star: SD Nic Kerdiles (2-0=2); 2nd Star: SD Anton Khudobin (41 saves on 43 shots faced); 3rd Star: SJ Trevor Parkes (1-0=1)