February 12, 2016
CHARLOTTE, NC – Mike Sgarbossa potted the game-winning goal 1:27 into overtime as the San Diego Gulls (22-19-1-1) escaped with a 3-2 victory over the Charlotte Checkers at Bojangles Coliseum in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Gulls’ third OT winner of the season came after Charlotte had tied the score with 1:20 left in the third period.
Brandon Montour and Charlotte native Bryan Moore also scored for San Diego, who beat the Checkers (25-18-3-2) for the first time in three tries this season. Charlotte dropped their eighth consecutive game (0-6-2), a new franchise record.
The Gulls came out with fire in the first period, outshooting the Checkers 10-3 while controlling puck possession. In the final minute of the frame, Brandon Montour crept into the high slot after a faceoff win by Sgarbossa and a quick touch from Joseph Cramarossa. Montour’s rising shot beat Charlotte goalie Daniel Altshuller high over the left shoulder for a 1-0 Gulls lead at 19:09.
Tipped goals would account for all the second period scoring, with both teams finding the back of the net once. Brody Sutter held out a lateral stick to bat Patrick Brown’s shot from inside the blue line on left wing, slapping the puck off the ice and behind San Diego goalie Matt Hackett for the equalizer 9:58 into the frame.
San Diego’s answer came from a local favorite; Bryan Moore, the first Charlotte native to sign a pro hockey contract, tipped Shea Theodore’s high slot wrist shot at the left side of the net, beating Altshuller for a 2-1 advantage at 15:35. It was Moore’s second goal of the season and followed a timeout video tribute for the hometown star.
Hackett took center stage from there, making a trio of sterling saves to keep the Gulls in front, twice denying outmanned rushes and once going post to post to deny a sure rebound goal. Hackett stopped 26-of-28 shots faced on the night, improving to 7-5-0 on the season.
The Checkers were unable to penetrate the goal line until a late penalty on San Diego’s Joseph Cramarossa for slashing enabled a power play, and the chance to pull the goalie for a sixth skater. Deftly working the puck inside their blue line, Trevor Carrick connected with T.J. Hensick on the left circle, who crossed dot-to-dot with a perfect pass to Brendan Woods, who fired home the equalizer with 1:20 remaining on the clock.
In overtime, Gulls winger Stefan Noesen celebrated his 23rd birthday in style, carrying the puck across three lines, regaining possession and finding Mike Sgarbossa on the right circle. His try off Altshuller’s pad came out to the slot, where Noesen lunged to tip the puck back to Sgarbossa, where a yawning net and a game winner awaited.
The Gulls and Checkers wrap up their weekend and the season series against one another with a rematch Saturday afternoon in Charlotte.
NOTES: The Gulls maintained a number of remarkable streaks with the win: San Diego is 17-0-0-1 when scoring first, 18-0-0 when leading after two periods, and 13-1-1-1 in one-goal games…the win lifted the Gulls to 3-1 in games ending in sudden death; the team is 4-1 in shootouts…Andrew O’Brien added a lone assist for San Diego…the road team has won all three meetings between the Gulls and Checkers…San Diego went 0-for-3 on the power play…the Gulls have failed to convert their past 18 power plays and are 7-for-54 on the man advantage since January 1…the Checkers have scored just eight goals over their past six games.
1st Star: SD Mike Sgarbossa (1-1=2, GWG); 2nd Star: CHA Brendan Woods (1-0=1); 3rdStar: SD Bryan Moore (1-0=1)