Feb. 3, 2018
SAN DIEGO – The Gulls scored four unanswered goals en route to a 4-1 win over the rival Tucson Roadrunners. San Diego (23-17-1-0, 47 pts, .573 win %) earned their third straight victory overall on the strength of two Kalle Kossila goals and a milestone marker from Corey Tropp. Tropp’s second period power play tally marked the 37th goal and 90th career point for San Diego to surpass Brandon Montour for the franchise’s all-time scoring record (37-53=90) and tie Antoine Laganiere for San Diego’s all-time goal-scoring record. Kevin Boyle (12-8-1) turned aside 25-of-26 shots to earn his seventh win in his last nine starts.
“That is the No. 1 team in our division and a team that we are chasing and I thought that was one of our better team efforts this year,” said Gulls head coach Dallas Eakins.
Despite a steady stream of San Diego shots early, Tucson (24-14-2-1, 51 pts., .622 win %) opened the scoring at 16:16 when Mario Kempe batted a rebound home after Connor Garland flew down the wing and fired a shot on Boyle. More pressure in the waning minutes of the opening frame saw the Gulls reach 20 shots on the shot-clock, the most they have had in period this season, surpassing a previous high of 19 set a month ago in Texas. Hunter Miska (14-4-0) held the fort for the Roadrunners, however, despite leaving a handful of juicy rebounds for San Diego to exploit.
The Gulls would finally break through early in the second period. Playing in his 100th AHL game, Kalle Kossila found a seam in the slot where he buried a shot that slipped under the arm of Miska at 8:06, tying the score at 1-1. The play was set-up by Nic Kerdiles drove the puck deep down the right side before finding his center Kossila. Kerdiles now has a three game point-streak (2G/3A), his second streak of three or more games this season.
“It was huge, especially the first period. I know we were down 1-0 but we came out flying and we knew they had a game last night, which is always tough to play back-to-backs against a team that did not play last night,” said Kossila. “After a week break, coming back like that I think it was a great performance.”
Kerdiles would set up another San Diego goal a few minutes later on the power play, this time leaving a drop-pass for All-Star Andy Welinski who blasted a one-timer on net and off of Tropp’s stick to deflect past Miska, giving the Gulls their first lead of the night at 16:36. The power play goal was the 47th on the season for the Gulls, a mark which co-leads the league.
“Every night, heart and soul. (Corey Tropp is) the one guy that every night is in those really dirty areas that hurts to go there, and he’s just been excellent here for us especially over the last little bit,” added Eakins. “He is just a guy that comes and understands that every game and every shift is a critical one.”
The third period was a tight-checking affair in which the Gulls were called on two kill two late penalties. The penalty kill performed excellently, going a perfect 4-for-4 on the night and killing off a 6-on-4 after Tucson pulled their goalie for the extra attacker. San Diego scored two shorthanded, empty-net goals 31 seconds apart, with Kossila and Sam Carrick tallying to ice the game in the waning seconds, the first shorthanded goals San Diego has scored since October.
With the win, Boyle is now tied for third among AHL rookie goaltenders. In his last nine appearances, Boyle has posted a 7-2-0 record with a 2.19 goals-against average (GAA) and .934 save percentage (SV%). Boyle is also 7-2-0 his last nine home appearances where he has recorded a 1.93 GAA and .942 SV%.
The Gulls will look to build off their three-game winning streak on Tuesday night when they host the Iowa Wild for just the second time in club history at Valley View Casino Center (7 p.m., Mighty 1090-AM).
1. K. Kossila (SD)
2. N. Kerdiles (SD)
3. K. Boyle (SD)