Dec. 23, 2017

ONTARIO, Calif. – Kalle Kossila scored with 38 seconds left in regulation to give San Diego its fifth consecutive win as they defeated the Ontario Reign, 4-3, at Citizens Business Bank Arena. The win streak ties the third longest in club history and is the longest since a six-game win streak last season. Kossila tied a career high with three poits (1G/2A) in support of Reto Berra’s (5-2-0) 30 saves as the Gulls swept both ends of the back-to-back set, each with thrilling finishes. A night after downing the Reign (13-12-1-1, 28 pts.) in comeback fashion in a 4-3 overtime contest, the Gulls (14-11-1-0, 29 pts.) were at it again on Saturday afternoon just 17 hours later.

The trio of Kossila, Corey Tropp and Nic Kerdiles combined for three goals and three assists as they each extended their respective point streak to season highs. Kossila now has a five-game point streak (3G/5A), as does Tropp (3G/4A), while Kerdiles has points in four straight games (2G/3A) since returning from a 16-game absence due to injury.

“Those are the kind of games against Ontario,” said Gulls Head Coach Dallas Eakins following the game. “They are always one-goal games, they are always very close. It doesn’t matter if we have a full lineup, or not a full lineup. The same goes with them. It’s always a highly competitive game and I think that really builds confidence in that togetherness with your team when you are able to put up wins like that.”

Kerdiles opened the scoring for San Diego at 4:15 when he deflected Keaton Thompson’s point shot past Cal Petersen (7-6-0) for his third goal of the season. Ontario would even the game at 16:57 when Jordan Subban fired a rocket from the slot to beat Berra after Matt Moulson left him a timely drop pass after Gulls defenseman Jaycob Megna was unable to clear the zone.

The spirited period also included two fights, including a classic bout between Steven Oleksy and Ontario captain Brett Sutter as the two clubs attempted to manufacture energy after such a quick turnaround between games.

An early second period power play would be fortuitous for San Diego. Tropp would gain net-front position before receiving a pass from Kossila. Tropp would tuck his stick between his legs before roofing a shot over a fooled Petersen to record his third goal in his last four games. The 32nd power play goal for the AHL’s top unit would put the Gulls on top 2-1 at the 2:30 mark.

The Reign would equalize at 5:23 of the middle period when Sean Walker won a loose puck in the slot and snuck a shot under the pad of a sprawling Berra. Just 18 seconds later Matt Moulson would record his first goal of the season, and 13th point, after jamming home a rebound following Mike Amadio’s shot to give the Reign their first lead of the day.

Scott Sabourin would notch his third goal of the year and bring San Diego back even terms at three apiece with the game-tying goal at 12:14 when he stormed his way to the front of the net and swatted his own rebound over the shoulder of Petersen as he was falling to the ice.

In the third period the two teams fought off both fatigue and opposing power plays to keep the score deadlocked for the majority of the frame. However, for the second time in as many trips to Ontario, a last-second goal by San Diego would be the difference. Back on Dec. 1, Giovanni Fiore scored with 2.8 seconds left to lift San Diego to a win. This afternoon it was Kossila who was the hero. The Finnish center received a pass from a hard-working Tropp from behind the net and rifled a shot over Petersen’s blocker to send the San Diego bench into a frenzy. The Gulls would hang on in the final seconds to seal the inspiring win.

“Corey (Tropp) made a great play, beat two guys and I went to the slot and it went straight to my tape. I was lucky to get the goal and it was good to get the win for the team,” said Kossila on the game-winner. “I think it’s a team effort. Players are sticking up for one another, protecting each other and doing the little things right. Staying in games and never giving up. We’re never out of games.”

The Gulls return home following the AHL’s holiday break to host the Tucson Roadrunners at Valley View Casino Center on Wednesday Dec. 27 (7 p.m., ESPN 1700-AM) .

Three Stars:
1. K. Kossila (SD)
2. M. Moulson (ONT)
3. M. Amadio (ONT)