Nov. 17, 2017

The Gulls tied a club record with eight goals in a 8-3 victory over the Tucson Roadrunners tonight at Valley View Casino Center. The eight goals tied the mark set twice previously, with the last occurring in an 8-2 victory over the Roadrunners on March 31 at Tucson. The Gulls also scored eight goals on Jan 25 at Tucson (8-1 win).

San Diego burst out of the gates with two goals in the opening 10 minutes, scored twice more to begin the second period, and never looked back in the victory in front of 9,049 at Valley View Casino Center. The Gulls (6-7-1-0) also scored eight goals on Jan 25 at Tucson (8-1 win). San Diego set a season high with four power play goals, and now lead the league with 22 power play tallies (22-for-82), with the 26.8% leading the AHL. San Diego has scored a goal on the man advantage in 13 of its 14 games this season.

“Our guys worked extremely hard in practice this week and dialed in the details,” said head coach Dallas Eakins. “The fruits of our labor were firmly on display tonight.”

Spencer Abbott tied a Gulls franchise record with a four-point night, netting two goals with two assists. Newcomer Eric Fehr scored a pair of goals in his San Diego debut, while the Gulls tallied four power play goals, adding to their league-leading total of 22 power play scores. Mitch Hults and Andy Welinski each contributed a goal with two assists.

“It felt like one of those nights where everything found a place, and we got a couple lucky ones,” said Abbott following his career night. Abbott’s four points tied Brandon Montour and Andy Welinski for the club record for points in a game, with Welinski’s 3-1=4 points the most recent on March 31 at Tucson.

For Abbott, the four points also tied a career high to match a four-point effort on April 7, 2015 at Milwaukee (with Rockford). In addition, Abbott has earned 7-21=28 points in 26 career games with San Diego.

The Roadrunners (8-2-2) saw their 10-game point streak come to an end as Tucson’s only two regulation losses have come at the Gulls’ hands, by an aggregate of 15-9 goals.

Hard work by San Diego’s fourth line led to a blistering start to the first period. Mitch Hults opened the scoring at 5:15 with a low backhand shot from outside left circle, helped by a net-front screen from Mike Liambas. Hults’ fourth goal of the year snuck behind starting goalie Adin Hill and inside right post for the night’s initial goal. The Gulls are 5-0-1 when scoring first this season.

Four minutes later, Hults was the distributor this time, winning a puck on the right half-wall and finding Liambas alone in front of the crease. The veteran quickly turned for a forehand shot and goal at 9:31 for a 2-0 lead. Tucson’s Lane Pederson answered with his fourth of the year on a cross-ice pass deflected to his stick for the left circle goal at 17:48. The Gulls led 2-1 after twenty minutes.

San Diego shot out of the locker room like a cannon to begin the second period, netting two quick goals. Deven Sideroff stole a loose puck at the Gulls’ blue line, triggering a 3-on-2 rush. Jordan Samuels-Thomas found a trailing Fehr, who gathered to his forehand before shooting home his first San Diego goal between the circles :59 into the frame for a 3-1 Gulls lead.

Kyle Thomas snuck home a short-side goal past net-minder Adin Hill at 3:36 for his first Gulls goal, ending Hill’s night, who stopped 11-of-15 shots. Hunter Miska replaced Hill in net for Tucson, stopping 17-of 21- shots the rest of the way.

The two teams traded power play goals to finish the second period, as Conor Garland netted his second goal of the season on assists from Dylan Strome and Nick Merkley at 4:05. Abbott got his big night going with a goal on the power play at 11:07, sending the rebound of Giovanni Fiore’s shot home from right circle. San Diego levied 18 shots on net in the second stanza to 10 shots for Tucson.

The man advantage would be featured on all four third-period goals, three times for the Gulls. Andy Welinski’s left-wing point shot just :31 into the period whizzed past a Sam Carrick net-front screen and into the net for his fifth goal of the season, all on the power play. Welinski leads the AHL in power play goals by a defenseman, and is tied with Laval’s Matt Taromina with twelve power-play points.

After Dylan Strome finished a crossing pass from Lawson Crouse and Kyle Capobianco at 11:23 on the power play, the Roadrunners had clawed back to a 6-3 deficit. A major cross-checking penalty on Tucson’s Conor Garland and subsequent goaltender interference call on Pederson led to a 5-on-3 advantage for the Gulls. Fehr finished his second of the night on a backhand tuck of a rebound in front of the crease at 13:31, on assists from Abbott and Welinski.

Fehr banged the crossbar minutes later, attempting to net the second Gulls hat trick in franchise history. The first was scored by Welinski in the 8-1 win over Tucson on January 15 at Tucson Arena. A second Spencer Abbott rebound goal at 17:38 on the man advantage concluded the scoring.

The Gulls conclude a five-game homestand when they host the Tucson Roadrunners on Saturday night at Valley View Casino Center (7 p.m.) when the club host’s Star Wars Night.

Three Stars:
1. Spencer Abbott (SD)
2. Mitch Hults (SD)
3. Eric Fehr (SD)