Dec. 5, 2017
MILWAUKEE, Wisc.- Kalle Kossila recorded a career-high three points (1-2=3), and Reto Berra (3-2-0) made 32 saves as the Gulls prevailed 5-2 over the Milwaukee Admirals at UW–Milwaukee Panther Arena. Playing in their first game outside of the Pacific Division this season, the Gulls improved to 9-10-1-0 (19 pts.) on the season and a remarkable 14-1-2-0 in their last 17 games outside of the state of California dating back to last year.
Finnish rookie Julius Nattinen and Eric Fehr each scored a goal and added an assist for multi-point games, with five different Gulls tallying goals in the seventh consecutive victory for the club against Central Division opponents.
Nattinen opened the scoring at 6:25 when he poked the puck home past Anders Lindback (11-5-0) for his fifth of the season following a scramble in front of the Milwaukee net just after the San Diego power play had expired. There was no doubt that the early marker energized the Gulls.
“The first goal is always big, especially this year,” said Kossila following his career night. “You just get energy from it, feed off of it.
The league-leading Gulls power play went to work late in the period, notching their 25th power play marker of the season. The play developed when Sam Carrick won position in front of the net and Andy Welinski let loose a shot from the right point. Welinski’s shot worked its way through traffic and Carrick kicked the rebound to his own stick before backhanding his shot in for his fourth goal, extending the lead to two with just over a minute left in the period.
“The first period was by far our best of the season,” said Gulls head coach Dallas Eakins. “Throughout the game we made very few mistakes. To a man, from our goalie to our six D, and all four lines they were contributing in different ways.”
Carrick’s goal extended his point-streak to a season-high four game games (1-3=4). Spencer Abbott picked up his team-leading 14th assist of the season on the play to extend his point streak to four games (1-4=5), tying his longest point streak of the season, set twice previously (last: Oct. 21-28 (2-4=6). After the first period it 2-0 San Diego following dominating first period that saw the Gulls outshoot the Admirals 13-5.
A fantastic first period for the Gulls gave way to a generally quiet, and in turn, successful second stanza for the visitors. The Gulls may have extended their lead further but Lindback held Milwaukee within two as he was peppered with 16 shots in the period.
Midway through the third period Kossila deflected a gorgeous Scott Sabourin pass past Lindback at 9:31 to give the Gulls a comfortable three goal lead with his third goal of the campaign. Trevor Smith would push a rebound past Berra’s glove on a 4-on-3 power play for Milwaukee with just over six minutes remaining to bring the Admirals back within two at 3-1.
Eric Fehr would deposit Ryan White’s pass to finish off a 2-on-1 rush and restore the three goal lead for San Diego. The tally by Fehr came on White’s first assist as a Gull. Bobby Butler would blast a right point shot past a screened Berra on the power play with an empty net to bring the Admirals back within two with just 1:03 left, but Keaton Thompson added an empty netter three seconds later for San Diego off the ensuing faceoff from his own blue line to finish the scoring for the night.
Following the game, the San Diego coaching staff made sure that one player got the recognition he deserved.
“Kalle is the poster boy on how you have to handle call-ups and how you have to handle demotions,” added Eakins on Kossila who was reassigned by the Anaheim Ducks yesterday. “He comes down, obviously not happy to be demoted, but fully he understands that he needs to be a difference maker on this team. Rather than dragging his lip and having a black cloud over his head, he comes in and gives us energy and plays an excellent game and it gets him in a great frame of mind.”
The Gulls will look to extend their winning streak to three games tomorrow at Allstate Arena when they take on the Chicago Wolves for the first time in franchise history. (5 p.m. PT, ESPN 1700-AM).
1. K. Kossila (SD)
2. R. Berra (SD)
3. A. Lindback (MIL)