Oct. 7, 2017
TUCSON, Ariz. – The Gulls eliminated a pair of two-goal first-period deficits and scored five consecutive goals in a span of 10:51 to defeat the Tucson Roadrunners, 7-6. The Gulls held off a valiant third-period comeback from the Roadrunners to improve to 3-0 all time in season openers and 7-0 at Tucson Arena the past two seasons.
Kevin Roy tallied two goals and an assist for San Diego, marking his first career three-point game, and first two power-play goal game. The second-year Gull tallied nine multi-point games in 2016-17, and tonight marked the second multi-goal game of his young career. Nic Kerdiles also tied a career high with three points (1-2=3), the third time in his career and first since notching a goal and two assists on Mar. 16, 2016 vs. San Antonio.
“There are a lot of good players out there. Tropp, Abbott, they see the ice really well,” said Roy following the game. “You just try and get in a spot and get open. I’m pretty fortunate to play with players like that on the power play. We have a lot of good players that can make plays.”
Sam Carrick, Steve Oleksy and Andy Welinski also netted goals for San Diego in the victory. In addition to Roy and Kerdiles’ multi-point games, right wings Spencer Abbott (0-2=2) and Corey Tropp (0-2=2), and rookie defenseman Marcus Pettersson (0-2=2) tallied two assists apiece.
In a wide-open first period that saw six goals between the two Pacific Division rivals, San Diego found themselves trailing by a pair of goals, 2-0 and 2-1, but found a way to claw their way back to 3-3 at the first intermission.
Former Gull Emerson Etem, an Anaheim Ducks first-round selection in 2010, kicked off the scoring frenzy with the opening goal 3:40 into the first period to give Tucson a quick 1-0 lead. Etem’s centering pass intended for Mario Kempe found its way through Boyle to put the Gulls down early.
Connor Garland doubled Tucson’s lead with a power-play goal only 70 seconds after the opener with Kalle Kossila in the box for high-sticking. Garland hammered a shot from the top of the circle over Boyle’s shoulder when Kempe’s pass sputtered to him in the slot.
Roy made it a 2-1 game at 9:25 of the first when he one-timed a Corey Tropp feed across the front of Miska’s goal for a power-play tally and the first San Diego goal of the season.
Former Gull Zac Larraza made it a two-goal game again at 12:08 of the opening frame when he backhanded a feed from Trevor Cheek behind the net and past Boyle on the short side.
With 4:33 remaining in the first, Sam Carrick cut the lead to 3-2 when he accepted a feed from Abbot and cut inside from the left wing and roofed the puck over Miska’s blocker and into the top of the net. San Diego drew even at 3-3 only 73 seconds later when Steve Oleksy’s point founds its way through Miska to even the score. Pettersson earned an assist on the goal, with the 2014 Ducks second-round draft pick getting on the score sheet his AHL debut for San Diego.
The second period even more goals than the first from a San Diego perspective, as they put four goals on the board and chased Miska at 26:18 into his professional debut. San Diego scored three goals in a span of 5:42 to take a 6-3 lead, and added a fourth to take a commanding lead. The four goals in the period equaled the most scored in a second period in club history, matching the four tallies in the middle frame of a 5-4 win Feb. 14, 2016 vs. Charlotte.
Thirty-six seconds into the second stanza Andy Welinski gave the Gulls their first lead of the season with a power-play goal of his own. His booming point shot found a way through traffic and beat Miska up high.
Roy extended San Diego’s lead to 5-3 with his second of the night when Pettersson found him for another quick one-timer with the man advantage.
The Gulls got on the board again at 13:42 as Kerdiles was credited with the goal when Roadrunners defenseman Andrew Campbell knocked a rebound off Miska’s pad back into his own net. Kerdiles split the Tucson defense and was denied on his initial shot but as the Roadrunners captain went to clear the puck, he inadvertently swiped the puck past his goaltender and over the goal line.
Tucson’s Scott Allen found the back of the net following a faceoff just after a 5-on-3 man advantage expired. Allen’s goal cut Tucson
Only 23 seconds later Mitch Hults buried his first goal of the season to give San Diego another three-goal lead at 13:13 of the period, making it 7-4. Roy picked up his third point of the night with an assist on the night to mark a career night for the 24-year old.
To keep consistent with the first period, a sixth goal of the period was scored with Kempe notching his first of the season at 18:39 and the Gulls held a two-goal lead at the second intermission.
With a 7-5 lead heading into the third period, San Diego looked to solidify its game defensively, but a power-play goal at 6:39 of the final period by Jens Looke made it a one-goal game and the focus on holding the lead.
Despite three more power plays for Tucson and a strong effort to find the tying goal, San Diego’s defensive core, backstopped by two point-blank saves from Boyle, regrouped to grind out the first victory of the season and two points against a division foe.
“(Boyle) made some huge saves there on the backdoor and kept us in and got the win”, added Roy. “What really matters is the win and he got it for us.”
The Gulls will open the 2017-18 home schedule with Opening Night on Friday, October 13 vs. the Texas Stars at Valley View Casino Center at 7 p.m. in a game that will be televised locally on FOX 5 San Diego. A limited number of tickets are available for the home opener.
NOTES: San Diego improved to 11-1-0-1 all-time against Tucson. In 13 games, the Gulls have scored 59 goals (4.5 goals-per game), including seven on three occasions. The 13 total goals tonight equaled San Diego’s record for combined goals in a game, matching a 7-6 Gulls win on Mar. 31, 2017 vs. San Jose. Defenseman Marcus Pettersson made his AHL debut for the Gulls tonight, while Mike Liambas and Steve Oleksy made their San Diego debuts. San Diego’s power play began the night 3-for-3 and finished 3-for-7. San Diego held Tucson to 2-of-8 on the man advantage, tying the most power plays allowed in club history (one shy of record nine set twice: Oct. 24, 2015 at Bakersfield (8-of-9) and Nov. 20, 2015 at Grand Rapids (5-of-9)). Thirteen Gulls registered a point, with Jacob Larsson, Kossila, Jeff Schultz and Austin Ortega each added assists.
1. Kevin Roy (SD)
2. Mario Kempe (TUC)
3. Nic Kerdiles (SD)