March 12, 2016
ONTARIO, Calif. – Mike Sgarbossa’s goal 3:42 into sudden death overtime was a game winner, as the San Diego Gulls, for the third straight game on the week, found their way to a thrilling overtime victory, beating the Ontario Reign 2-1 in front of 9,491 at Citizens Business Bank Arena.
The Gulls (31-20-2-2) extended their season-best points streak to ten consecutive games (8-0-1-1), winning in 3-on-3 sudden death for the third straight agame, while participating in their fourth straight overtime contest overall. Nic Kerdiles netted the Gulls’ other tally at 4:07 of the first period.
San Diego has developed a six-game road points streak (5-0-0-1), pushing to a .600 point percentage on the season. The Reign (34-14-4-1) lost to the Gulls for the sixth time in nine games.
The two best teams in the American Hockey League at protecting an early lead hooked up once again, as the Gulls (23-0-1-1) and Reign (26-0-1-0) are the only two clubs remaining in the league not to have suffered a regulation loss when scoring first. It would be San Diego taking the seemingly crucial first goal of the night, as defenseman Brandon Montour collected a clean faceoff win in the offensive zone off a tap from fellow blue-liner Jaycob Megna. Montour’s blue line slap shot deflected off Nic Kerdiles and into the net for Kerdiles’ 12th goal of the season.
San Diego had a chance to extend their advantage when winger Ondrej Kase drew a penalty shot with 1:19 remaining in the first period. Kase’s attempt at a backhand deke on Reign netminder Peter Budaj was poke-checked away to keep the game a 1-0 contest.
A scoreless second period saw the Reign start and end the frame with a power play, only to be denied by strong work in net from Gulls goalie Anton Khudobin (35 saves on 36 shots faced). Khudobin made eleven saves in the period as San Diego limped into the third nursing their 1-0 lead.
In a game filled with clinical play and few chances, the Gulls would gift wrap the equalizer 7:45 into the third period. San Diego defensemen Shea Theodore and Shane O’Brien teamed up on a puck behind Khudobin’s net, but the attempted clearance instead slid out to Reign forward Adrian Kempe directly in front of the goal mouth. Kempe slammed the puck home for his ninth goal of the season and a tie game at 1-1.
Despite being out-shot 36-to-20 on the night, the Gulls controlled the puck in overtime and had the only two shots during 3-on-3 play. Montour’s feed in front of the net was knocked home by Sgarbossa to send San Diego home with their points streak intact, improving to 6-2 in sudden death OT.
San Diego returns home for contests Wednesday night against San Antonio, and Friday night against Bakersfield.
NOTES: The Gulls have captured points in twelve of their past thirteen games (10-1-1-1) and fourteen of the last sixteen (12-2-1-1)…first goal has picked the winner in all nine Gulls/Reign contests so far this season…Ontario’s four-game winning streak came to an end…San Diego center Chris Mueller registered a +1 rating on one shot, but saw his three-game goals streak and six-game points streak (7-6=13) come to an end…with two helpers on the night, Brandon Montour leads all AHL rookies with 36 assists…Anton Khudobin is 10-1-1-1 in his last thirteen starts…Reign center Kris Newbury was served a game misconduct in the final minute of the first period for abuse of an official…the Gulls held Ontario to 0-for-4 on the power play…San Diego is now 25-0-0 when leading after two periods of play.
1st Star: SD Mike Sgarbossa (GWG, 1-0=1 points, +1 rating); 2nd Star: SD Nic Kerdiles (1-0=1, 2 shots); 3rd Star: ONT Adrian Kempe (1-0=1, 4 shots)