Jan. 6, 2018

Sam Carrick snapped a 2-2 tie 5:25 into the third period and Kevin Boyle made the goal stand, tying a club record with 46 saves in a 3-2 San Diego Gulls victory over the San Jose Barracuda on Saturday night at Valley View Casino Center. With the victory, the Gulls won their 100th game in club history tonight to become the first Pacific Division to reach the milestone. San Diego leads the Pacific Division in all-time wins, win percentage (.631%) and points (212) with a record of 100-56-8-4 since the division’s inception in 2015. San Diego also leads the Western Conference in win percentage since the beginning of the 2015-16 season.

Boyle matched the club record set just 24 hours earlier by Reto Berra, who stopped 46 shots in a 5-0 win over San Jose on Friday night. Boyle (10-6-1) also set a club record for most shots faced (48) in a single game, surpassing Berra’s 46 shots faced last night. Boyle In his last six home appearances, Boyle is a perfect 6-0-0 with a 2.06 GAA and .940 SV% dating back to Nov. 17. The Manalapan, N.J. native is also 8-3-0 in 11 home starts this season.

“We’re a confident group right now,” said Boyle. “We knew if we played our best game we’d come out on top.”

The Gulls (18-13-1-0) have won three straight to start the New Year and are victorious in nine of their past 11 games (9-2-0) and 11 of the last 14 (11-3-0), rising from seventh to fourth place in the AHL Pacific Division standings. San Diego has also won five of their past six home contests (5-1-0).

With the win, San Diego also extended their home win streak to nine consecutive games (9-0-0-0) against San Jose dating back to Feb. 27, 2016. All-time, the Gulls have a 10-1-1-1 record at home against the Barracuda.

After a scoreless first period, San Diego struck first, again courtesy of the top power play unit in the AHL. Settling the rebound of a right wing shot from Kalle Kossila, veteran center Eric Fehr was well positioned in the low slot to lift a puck over San Jose goalie Troy Grosenick (5-5-2) for his team leading 11th goal of the season and sixth his last six games. The goal gave San Diego a 1-0 lead at 5:12 of the second period.

The Gulls went 2-for-3 on the power play for the game, and have scored nine power play goals in their past three games (9-for-12, 75.0%) during the torrid run. San Diego leads the league with 44 power play goals and a 28.3% conversion rate.

San Jose was able to answer back before the second period was over, equalizing on Adam Helewka’s unassisted goal on a walkout from behind Boyle’s net to right post at 15:00.

A third period cross-checking minor on San Jose’s Gus Young was quickly converted into a 2-1 lead, as Marcus Petterson’s slap shot from center blue line was deflected into the net by Joe Blandisi, who scored a power play goal for the second consecutive game. Blandisi’s fifth goal of the season between Binghamton and San Diego gave the Gulls the lead back at 2:14 of the third period, with assists to Pettersson and Dennis Rasmussen.

“We wanted to shorten up our shifts to start the third period and I thought we did that,” said head coach Dallas Eakins. “I’m not sure we were at our best tonight, but to not be at your best and still win, that’s a great feeling.”

The Barracuda (15-14-0-2), losers of three straight, fought back to equalize on Emerson Clark’s rebound goal 3:56 into the third period to knot the game at 2-2. Helewka and Young assisted on the goal.

The Gulls took the lead for good as Blandisi triggered a headman pass to Sam Carrick who accelerated off the left wall to stick handle through two Barracuda defensemen, skate around Grosenick’s and slot home his seventh goal of the season for the eventual game winner. Pettersson’s exit pass from the Gulls defensive zone began the play and was good for his second assist of the night, his second career multi-point game.

“We set a standard pretty high for what our team can do, and the first two periods were not at that standard,” said Carrick. “It was a matter of getting back to our game and what we do to be successful. There’s a good feeling in the room and anytime you can win in the third period in front of your home fans, it’s always fun. It’s fun to play in this building.”

San Diego killed off a power play in the final three minutes of regulation and faded over a full minute with Grosenick off in favor of a sixth attacker. Boyle’s glove save on John McCarthy in the closing seconds tied the club record and sealed the win.

The Gulls continue their four-game homestand when they host the Chicago Wolves for the first time in club history on Wednesday, Jan. 10 (7 p.m.).

Three Stars:
1. Kevin Boyle (SD)
2. Sam Carrick (SD)
3. Adam Helewka (SJ)