April 28, 2016
SAN DIEGO – The San Diego Gulls made their first-ever American Hockey League home game in the Calder Cup Playoffs one to remember, storming past the Texas Stars 6-1 in front of a boisterous crowd of 6,571 at Valley View Casino Center. San Diego has a 2-games-to-1 series lead with Game 4 scheduled for Friday night (7:05 p.m.).
Chris Wagner (1-2=3), Mike Sgarbossa (1-2=3) and Shea Theodore (0-3=3) each paced the Gulls offense, as San Diego (2-1) set a postseason high and matched their best regular season mark with six goals scored. Anton Khudobin stopped 28-of-29 shots in net and earned the game’s stop star, as the Gulls moved within one win of a series victory in the best-of-five contest.
The return of Wagner and Theodore on assignment from the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks after the conclusion of the parent club’s Stanley Cup Playoffs runs fortified a Gulls lineup that had managed a 1-1 split to open the series in Austin. Theodore’s first assist of the night came on a Gulls power play just under six minutes into the opening period, setting up Brandon Montour’s low slap shot from straightaway inside the blue line. San Diego led 1-0 at the 5:55 mark and carried the advantage into the first intermission.
The second period saw some of the most spirited and effective play of the Gulls season, as San Diego outshot Texas (1-2) 21-to-8 and outscored them 3-0. Nick Ritchie extended his playoff goals streak to three straight games by finishing a give-and-go from Chris Mueller for his third of the playoffs and a 2-0 San Diego lead at 8:51.
Just over three minutes later, it was Mike Sgarbossa electrifying the home crowd with a weaving race through four Stars defenders, finishing a backhand goal for the Gulls’ second power play score of the night and a 3-0 lead at 11:58. Theodore and Khudobin earned assists on the play, the goalie’s first offensive helper of the season.
The coup de grace was delivered by Joseph Cramarossa, who beat Stars netminder Jack Campbell at 14:27 on assists from Wagner and Andy Welinski. San Diego carried a 4-0 score into the locker room after forty minutes.
Esa Lindell’s second goal of the series got Texas on the board at 3:22 of the third period, but the Gulls quickly answered on Stefan Noesen’s first of the playoffs at 5:35, pursuing the puck after set-ups from Wagner and Ondrej Kase. Wagner’s goal at 15:21, deflected off a Stars defenseman, closed out the scoring.
The Gulls will attempt to win their first-ever AHL Calder Cup playoff series on Friday night when they play Game 4 against the Stars, a 7:05 p.m. faceoff at Valley View Casino Center.
NOTES: In addition to his first pro playoff goal, Brandon Montour registered a series-high nine shots on goal for the game…the Gulls converted on 2-of-6 power plays after an 0-for-7 start to the man advantage in the first two games of the series…the Stars finished 0-for-4 on the night on the power play and are 2-for-16 for the series…Wagner and Theodore both recorded +3 ratings…San Diego is 2-0 in the playoffs and 33-0-0 on the season when leading after forty minutes.
1st Star: SD Anton Khudobin (28 saves on 29 shots faced); 2nd Star: SD Chris Wagner (1-2=3, +3 rating, 5 SOG); 3rd Star: SD Shea Theodore (0-3=3, +3 rating, 6 SOG)