April 6, 2016
SAN DIEGO – Corey Tropp’s overtime game winning goal 1:44 into the extra period gave the San Diego Gulls their biggest comeback victory of the season, a 6-5 pullback over the Bakersfield Condors. The win clinched a Calder Cup playoffs berth for the Gulls (37-22-3-2) in their first AHL season in San Diego.
Trailing 5-2 heading into the third period, the Gulls began their comeback on a Brian McGrattan steal in neutral ice. The veteran winger slung a shot off the pads of Bakersfield netminder Eetu Laurikainen, with the rebound bouncing to Chris Mueller, who potted his 19th goal of the year at 4:01 to begin the surge.
A 4-on-3 power play three minutes later would be quickly cashed in by the Gulls on Mike Sgarbossa’s 16th goal of the season, off assists from Mueller and Shea Theodore. On the ensuing center-ice draw, Matt Bailey won the puck clean to Theodore, who weaved around three defenders on right wing before banking home his ninth goal of the year, and the second tally in seven seconds for San Diego. The game was tied 5-5 at the 7:24 mark of the period.
In sudden death OT, Brandon Montour and Theodore passed in the defensive zone to trigger a Tropp rush on left wing. Lowering his shoulder to burst past the defenseman, Tropp weaved in on left circle before slotting the game-winner through Laurikainen’s five hole and into glory.
The Gulls came out sluggishly on a night when San Antonio’s 4-3 overtime win over San Jose had already clinched a playoff berth for San Diego minutes into the first intermission. By that point, Bakersfield (28-27-6-2) had built a 2-0 lead on a pair of Anton Slepyshev goals, one on the power play.
San Diego’s chance to cut into the deficit early in the second period on a Colton Waltz elbowing penalty instead saw the Condors stretch to a 3-0 advantage on Josh Currie’s short-handed goal. Undaunted, the Gulls would convert their man advantage 57 seconds later when Mueller spotted Montour sliding in on right wing with a cross-ice pass. Montour, named to the AHL All-Rookie Team prior to the game, roofed his twelfth goal of the season to put the Gulls on the scoreboard, trailing 3-1 at 3:55 of the second.
Antoine Laganiere then worked his way through an inspired shift on ice for San Diego, winning the puck three times on an extended forecheck before backhanding in his fifteenth of the year to make it 3-2 at 6:47 of the second.
Bakersfield regained their three-goal advantage on scores by Mitch Moroz and Matthew Ford before the second period was over, but Gulls goalie Ryan Faragher stopped the twelve shots he faced in the third period and overtime to secure his second win of the year.
The Gulls improved to a .020 percentage points lead over the Texas Stars for second place in the AHL Pacific Division, and home ice advantage for the first round of the Calder Cup Playoffs. San Diego travels to Stockton on the weekend for Saturday night and Sunday afternoon road games.
NOTES: The win was just the second for San Diego all season when trailing after forty minutes (2-18-1-0)…The Gulls allowed first goal in all three games on the homestand but managed to post a 2-0-1-0 record…Montour and Theodore recorded a goal and two assists apiece…San Diego goalie Matt Hackett was scratched from his start less than an hour prior to game time due to illness…Faragher made 37 saves on 42 shots to secure the victory…the 92 combined shots between two teams (50-42 SD shot total) was the most combined shots in any Gulls game this season…the Condors and Gulls combined for 91 goals in their 12-game season series, the most by far of any Gulls series against any opponent…San Diego finished the year 6-6-0 against Bakersfield, but the Condors won the season series 15 points to 12 (finishing 6-2-3-1 against SD)…Stefan Noesen and Jaycob Megna added lone assists to the Gulls’ cause.
1st Star: SD Corey Tropp (GWG); 2nd Star: SD Chris Mueller (1-2=3, 5 shots, +1 rating); 3rd Star: BAK Anton Slepyshev (2-0=2, 6 shots, +1 rating)