March 16, 2016
SAN DIEGO – Nic Kerdiles and Brandon Montour each netted a goal with two assists, and the San Diego Gulls used a 3-0 second period to defeat the San Antonio Rampage 6-2 on Wednesday night at Valley View Casino Center. The Gulls (32-20-2-2) won their fourth straight, pushing their points streak to eleven games (9-0-1-1) while dealing the Rampage (24-32-8-0) their seventh straight loss.
Chris Wagner, Chris Mueller, Ondrej Kase and Brian McGrattan also found the back of the net for San Diego, with Mueller adding an assist for his sixth multi-point game in his last eight. Combined with a Texas Stars 4-1 loss against Grand Rapids, the Gulls leapfrogged the Stars into second place in the AHL’s Pacific Division, leading .607 to .600 in point percentage.
A back-and-forth first period saw San Diego net the first goal when Wagner burst past three Rampage defenders and gain a step, allowing time to stick-handle and backhand the puck past netminder Reto Berra for a 1-0 Gulls lead. The Gulls have not lost in regulation all season when netting the game’s first goal (25-0-1-1).
While the Rampage found the equalizer on Garry Nunn’s rebound goal past Anton Khudobin at 15:15, the story of the end of the first period was a spirited scrap between the Gulls’ Brian McGrattan and Rampage forward Daniel Maggio, the rematch of a memorable fight which knocked out McGrattan in January. McGrattan added a ten-minute misconduct in the fight, which drew a standing ovation from the crowd of 5,934.
The Gulls seemingly responded to their alternate captain’s melee, popping out of the locker room in the second period with a dominant display. The Rampage were forced to turn to reserve goalie Roman Will after Berra suffered a lower-body injury late in the first, and he saw Kase loose in the low slot, fed perfectly on a Mueller pass from behind the night to fire home his fifth goal of the season and put San Diego on top 2-1 at 3:47 of the period.
At 7:17, it was Brandon Montour displaying the wicked slap shot that’s led him to rank second among AHL defensemen in scoring. His rising blast from just inside the blue line beat Will over the shoulder and into the net for his tenth goal of the season and a 3-1 Gulls advantage.
Kerdiles closed the period in fine fashion for San Diego, rebounding home a Matt Bailey short-handed shot at 14:04 for the Gulls’ ninth short-handed goal of the season and a 4-1 lead.
San Diego picked up a power play 44 seconds into the third period and converted quickly, with Mueller teed up on a backhanded diagonal pass by Montour through traffic. With an empty half-net, Mueller knocked in his team-leading 18th goal of the season to make it 5-1 Gulls just 59 seconds into the third.
McGrattan’s tip goal at 3:51, on assists from Andrew O’Brien and Antoine Laganiere, closed out the scoring in emphatic fashion for San Diego and Cody Corbett’s power play goal for San Antonio at 12:30 set the final score line.
The Gulls, who finished the season 6-0-0 against the Rampage, will host Bakersfield on Friday night at Valley View Casino Center before traveling to Ontario on Saturday.
NOTES: The Gulls have captured points in thirteen of their past fourteen games (11-1-1-1) and fifteen of the last seventeen (13-2-1-1)…San Diego is averaging 4.09 goals per game (45 goals in 11 games) during their point streak…the Gulls held San Antonio to ten goals in their six-game season series sweep…while the Rampage were able to convert once on the power play in the third period, the Gulls have killed 36 of their past 40 penalties against, while scoring twice short-handed…Anton Khudobin (35 saves) is 10-1-1 in his past twelve starts for San Diego in net…defenseman Jaycob Megna scored his tenth assist of the year and had a +3 rating; he leads the Gulls at +18 on the season…San Diego is 26-0-0 when leading after two periods.
1st Star: SD Brian McGrattan (1-0=1, 15 PIM); 2nd Star: SD Nic Kerdiles (1-2=3, 4 SOG, +2 rating); 3rd Star: SD Brandon Montour (1-2=3, 4 SOG, +1 rating)