March 8, 2016
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. – Stefan Noesen finished an overtime breakaway with a top-shelf backhand goal, handing the San Diego Gulls a 4-3 victory over the Bakersfield Condors in front of a sellout crowd of 8,000 at Rabobank Arena. The Gulls extended their season-best overall points streak to eight games (6-0-1-1) while also improving to 4-0-0-1 in their last five road games.
Chris Mueller led the Gulls with two goals and an assist, helping San Diego (29-20-2-2) win for the second straight time in Bakersfield after losing in their first four attempts. Nic Kerdiles also found the back of the net for the Gulls, his fourth in the past five games, and added a pair of assists for his first career three-point game.
Leading 3-1 entering the third period, the Gulls saw the Condors (25-22-4-2) rally behind Jordan Oesterle’s short-handed goal at 7:42, and Brad Hunt’s equalizer at 12:05. The Condors also rang the post twice as part of a frenetic back-and-forth game that ended with sudden death OT.
In overtime, passes from Shea Theodore and Mike Sgarbossa triggered Noesen’s breakaway from the blue line in on Condors netminder Niklas Lundstrom. Noesen powered in on his forehand before quickly switching to a backhand shot, which he snuck over Lundstrom’s shoulder and into the top netting for his eighth goal of the season and his third game-winner.
The Gulls saw Bakersfield score first just 2:10 into the first period, as Anton Slepyshev tipped home Matthew Ford’s shot from right wing past San Diego goalie Anton Khudobin and into the net for a 1-0 lead. Khudobin stopped 26-of-29 shots faced on the night, improving to 13-6-3 on the season with the win.
Mueller had the answer just over two minutes later, teaming with Kerdiles on a center-ice steal, leading to a breakaway. Mueller slotted the goal at 4:20 to level the score at 1-1.
Late in the period, the Gulls’ top line of Mueller, Kerdiles and Noesen generated multiple chances, including a pair of breakaways. Noesen had the first try, gaining a half step on four Bakersfield defenders but missing the net wide. Moments later, it was Mueller rushing the middle, with Kerdiles in tow to deflect home the rebound goal off his skate at 19:39 for a 2-1 advantage.
Mueller’s second of the night, a power play score 8:11 into the second period, helped San Diego to a 3-1 lead after forty minutes. The Gulls had a pair of power plays early in the third period, but on their second try, a Condors steal led to a 2-on-1 rush and Oesterle’s short-handed score, the tenth short-handed goal of the season for Bakersfield and second in as many games.
Hunt took the early shooting opportunity on a 2-on-1 rush twelve minutes into the third period, beating Khudobin over the right shoulder for the game-tying goal. San Diego dodged a number of Condors chances late, then picked up their fourth OT win of the year on Noesen’s game winner.
The Gulls and Condors meet again on Friday night at Valley View Casino Center at 7:05 p.m.
NOTES: Despite their hiccups on the road to victory, the Gulls managed to convert a second intermission lead into a win once again; San Diego is one of just five teams in the AHL who remain perfect (24-0-0) when leading after forty minutes…Chris Mueller has scored four goals in his past two games and has 9-11=20 points in his past fifteen games…first goal did not pick the winner for the second straight game; it had done so in the previous 21 Gulls games…the Condors are 0-4 in 3-on-3 overtime…Sgarbossa’s assist on the game-winning goal was his 35th point of the season…the Gulls are 6-1-0-1 in their past eight road games…the final three meetings between Bakersfield and San Diego will all be at Valley View Casino Center.
1st Star: SD Stefan Noesen (GWG, 1-1=2, +1 rating, 3 SOG); 2nd Star: BAK Brad Hunt (1-0=1, 3 SOG); 3rd Star: SD Chris Mueller (2-1=3, 4 SOG)