April 8, 2017
ONTARIO – The San Diego Gulls (40-20-3-2, 85 pts.) dropped its third consecutive game in a 3-1 loss to the Ontario Reign (35-20-10-0; 80 pts.) at Citizens Business Bank Arena on Saturday night. Brett Sutter’s two-point effort (1-1=2) and Jack Campbell’s 27 saves led Ontario to a weekend sweep of San Diego.
Despite the loss, the Gulls have posted an impressive 12-6-1-0 mark in the last 19 games and have wins in 22 of their last 31 contests (22-8-1-0) and 29 of the last 40 overall (29-9-1-1). San Diego has earned standings points in 17 of the last 25 (16-8-1-0), as well as points in 33 of 42 contests since Dec. 26 (29-9-2-2).
Vincent LoVerde opened the scoring for the Reign with a blast from the point that slipped through the five-hole of San Diego goaltender Dustin Tokarski. The Ontario captain has goals in consecutive games and has 2-5=7 points in his last nine contests overall.
San Diego outshot Ontario 10-5 in the first frame, but trailed 1-0 due to some impressive goaltending from Campbell. Campbell (31-14-6) robbed Escondido native Austin Ortega early in the period and made some big saves on the Gulls’ four power-play opportunities.
Ortega got revenge 24 seconds into the second stanza as he deflected Nate Guenin’s wrist shot by Campbell. Ortega has 2-1=3 points in four games after being signed to an amateur tryout by San Diego on March 20.
The teams traded opportunities the rest of the period with San Diego’s best chance coming on Kalle Kossila’s bid that rang off the post. On the other end of the ice, Ontario almost took the lead in the waning minutes when Tokarski fumbled the rebound of Michael Mersch’s shot, but Mike Amadio poked the puck wide. The southern California rivals remained tied 1-1 heading into the final 20 minutes.
Ontario regained the lead at 4:01 of the third period as Zach Leslie deflected Sutter’s drive past Tokarski. The goal marked Leslie’s first since Dec. 13 against the Gulls.
San Diego came very close to tying the game late when Austin Ortega hit Kevin Roy with a stretch pass at the Ontario blue line. Roy broke in on Campbell all alone, only to see his wrist shot hit the post.
The Reign iced the game with Sutter’s empty-net goal at 19:09 after San Diego pulled Tokarski with a little under two minutes left in regulation for an extra attacker.
The Gulls return home on Wednesday, April 12 to host the Bakersfield Condors at Valley View Casino Center (7 p.m.) A limited number of tickets are available by visiting AXS.com/Gulls or by phone at (619) 359-4730.
NOTES: Gulls forwards Tyler Soy made his professional debut after signing an amateur tryout agreement earlier in the day…Defenseman James Melindy and forward Deven Sideroff also made their season debuts for San Diego…Tyler Morley picked up his 12th assist of the season and has 0-3=3 points over his last four games…San Diego goaltender Dustin Tokarski (16-8-1) stopped 23-of-25 shots in his eighth loss of the campaign…The Gulls fell to 9-10-1-0 in the second matchup of back-to-back games and are now 33-19-2-2 against the Pacific Division.