December 19, 2015
ONTARIO, Calif. – Mike Sgarbossa’s shootout goal closed out a San Diego Gulls 3-2 overtime victory against the Ontario Reign, watched by 8,535 at Citizens Business Bank Arena. Nick Ritchie, who scored both Gulls goals in regulation, added a shootout tally as San Diego (14-10-0-1) held off the Reign (15-4-2-1) 2-0 in the shootout round, posting their third consecutive win overall and third straight over the Pacific Division leaders.
Making his second consecutive start in net since being assigned to the Gulls by the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks, goalie Anton Khudobin made 27 saves in regulation and overtime, then stopped both Ontario shootout bids to secure the win.
The Reign’s “Teddy Bear Toss Night” opened with fans anticipating their chance to toss teddies on the ice for charity. With the toss scheduled for Ontario’s first goal, the Gulls upset the applecart and delayed the frenzy by tallying first instead. Nick Ritchie picked up his sixth power play goal of the season on assists from Brandon Montour and Chris Mueller at 11:22 to put San Diego on top 1-0.
The goal checked three important boxes for the Gulls: the first goal, a power play goal, and a Nick Ritchie goal. San Diego improved to 11-0-0-1 when scoring first, 12-4-0-1 when scoring on the power play, and 8-0-0-1 when Ritchie scores a goal.
Ontario would unleash the teddy torrent with 3:32 remaining in the first period, when Justin Auger picked up a turnover off a fanned shot in the offensive zone, building a 3-on-2 rush which he finished solo for his fifth goal of the year and a 1-1 tie.
Ritchie would have the answer once again for the Gulls just over four minutes into the second period, working off the strong forecheck of Stefan Noesen to put home the rebound of his own shot for his eleventh goal of the season at 4:11.
With Khudobin standing strong and the Gulls killing off all six Ontario power plays, the lead was preserved until late in the third period, when fortune smiled on the hosts. With Ontario’s net empty and a sixth attacker on the ice, Kris Newbury picked up a loose puck behind the San Diego end line and deflected the puck off Khudobin’s blocker at an angle and into the net for the equalizer with just 24 seconds remaining on the clock.
In sudden-death overtime, Gulls forward Max Friberg continued a hard-working blue-collar game by drawing a holding penalty to give San Diego a power play in the game’s final two minutes. A late call against San Diego’s Shea Theodore with 18 seconds left in OT nudged the game toward its shootout conclusion.
Ritchie opened the shootout with a goal, then saw Khudobin stop Sean Backman and Kris Newbury consecutively. Sgarbossa’s goal, his second shootout goal of the year, sealed the victory. San Diego won both of their weekend back-to-back games in extra time, beating San Jose 3-2 in overtime on Friday. The Gulls improved to a .580 points percentage, good for second-place in the AHL Pacific Division and sixth place in the Western Conference.
The San Diego Gulls will now enjoy the holiday break before returning to home ice on Saturday, Dec. 26, when they host the Reign for a 7pm faceoff at Valley View Casino Center.