February 13, 2016
CHARLOTTE, NC – Shea Theodore (1-2=3) and Chris Mueller (0-3=3) recorded three points apiece as the San Diego Gulls (23-19-1-1) held off a Charlotte Checkers third period comeback attempt, pulling out a 5-4 victory at Bojangles Coliseum. The Gulls swept the weekend series and dealt Charlotte (25-19-3-2) their franchise-worst ninth consecutive defeat.
The Gulls erupted for four goals in the second period, breaking open a 1-1 tie. Theodore and Mueller collected all of their points during the onslaught. Antoine Laganiere’s short-handed goal at 16:39 of the period proved to be the game winner.
San Diego set an early tone as Matt Berry swept home the rebound of a Zac Larraza chance just 1:20 into the game for a 1-0 Gulls lead. The Gulls are now 18-0-0-1 when scoring the game’s first goal.
Charlotte answered back on Patrick Brown’s rebound score at 8:41 of the first for a 1-1 tie after twenty minutes, but the second period would both start and end well for San Diego. Joseph Cramarossa’s shivering forecheck in the right corner of the offensive zone allowed him to steal the puck, immediately slotting a pass to Theodore at the right circle, who wristed home his fifth goal of the year 52 seconds into the second period for a 2-1 Gulls lead.
Entering the night on an 0-for-18 drought on the power play, the Gulls saw Charlotte take consecutive slashing minors midway through the frame. Stefan Noesen converted the 5-on-3 advantage at 10:46 on assists from Mueller and Theodore, building the lead out to 3-1 San Diego.
Ryan Murphy’s first of two goals on the night, a power play score for Charlotte at 13:55, temporarily narrowed the score to 3-2, but the Gulls came roaring back with two goals in 92 seconds. First, after an Ethan Werek holding penalty put San Diego on the power play, Brandon Montour skated in to accept a pass on the right circle from Mueller behind the net, one-timing home his eighth goal of the year for a 4-2 lead at 15:07.
Moments later, this time with Charlotte on the man advantage after a Matt Bailey holding call, Mueller’s defensive zone faceoff win was sent forward to a pouncing Laganiere, who wove between three Checkers skaters before beating Daniel Altshuller high over the right arm for his tenth goal of the season and a 5-2 San Diego cushion. The Laganiere goal spelled the end of the night for Altshuller, who surrendered five goals on sixteen shots faced.
The Checkers got a hopeful crowd of 8,320 on “Pink in the Rink” night back into the game with two quick goals in the third period, as San Diego wobbled with their defensive clearances. Murphy found his second of the night on a rebound at 4:03, and Kyle Hagel spun on a loose puck in the low slot for his second of the year at 6:36, drawing Charlotte within one at 5-4.
Anton Khudobin (24 saves on 28 shots faced) and the Gulls held off the remainder of the Checkers’ comeback bid, using a too many men penalty on Charlotte late in the period to bleed off precious time. San Diego dropped the Checkers to 0-7-2 on their current nine-game skid, while moving into a tie for fourth place in the AHL Pacific Division.
The Gulls return home on Wednesday night to take on the Texas Stars at Valley View Casino Center.
NOTES: The Gulls finish the AHL Central portion of their schedule with a final record of 4-4-0…the visiting team won all four games in the Gulls-Checkers series, although Charlotte used Friday’s overtime loss to take the series 5-4 on points…Montour continues to pace the AHL with 24 power play points…San Diego improved to 19-0-0 when leading after two periods, and 14-1-1-1 in one-goal games…the Gulls signed center Michael Pelech to a Professional Try Out (PTO) contract prior to the game, from the ECHL Norfolk Admirals…center Kyle MacKinnon missed the game with an upper body injury.
1st Star: SD Shea Theodore (1-2=3); 2nd Star: CHA Ryan Murphy (2-0=2); 3rd Star: SD Chris Mueller (0-3=3)