April 5, 2017

The Gulls (40-18-3-2, 85 pts.) fell 5-3 to the Stockton Heat (32-25-4-2; 70 pts.) in the 10th and final game of the season series at Stockton Arena on Wednesday night. Hunter Shinkaruk recorded his third career hat trick and goaltender David Rittich (14-11-2) made 16 saves as the Gulls fell to 3-7-0-0 against Stockton this season.

Despite the loss, the Gulls have posted a 12-4-1-0 record the last 17 games and a 22-6-1-0 mark in the last 29 games overall. The club has also earned standings points in 17 of the last 23 contests (16-6-1-0) and 33 of 40 contests since Dec. 26 (29-7-2-2).

Shinkaruk opened the scoring with his 11th of the season at 5:09 of the first period when his snap shot from the slot beat San Diego goaltender Jhonas Enroth (14-4-0). Stockton rookie Mark Jankowski tallied an assist on the play and extended his point streak to 10 games (5-7=12). Only two minutes later at 7:11 of the first period, Ryan Lomberg picked off Stu Bickel’s pass in the Gulls zone and ripped a shot by Enroth to double Stockton’s lead to 2-0.

San Diego struck back quickly to shock Stockton with two goals in 30 seconds and tie the game 2-2. The first came at 7:51 when Escondido native Austin Ortega finished off a great centering pass from Tyler Morley for his first AHL goal. The Gulls tied the game at 8:21 on Scott Sabourin’s seventh goal of the year off a great play by Jordan Samuels-Thomas, whose shot bounced off a Stockton defenseman’s skate and right to Sabourin who lifted the puck into the net behind Rittich.

The Heat regained the lead at 10:51 as Shinkaruk struck again for his second of the game and 12th of the season. This time the 22-year-old picked up a loose puck and whipped a shot past Enroth to put the home club up 3-2..

San Diego would tie the game late in the dying seconds of the period on Kalle Kossila’s power-play goal with only 2.5 seconds remaining in the frame. The Finnish rookie’s wrist shot from the right circle snuck past Rittich to give him 3-10=13 points in his last 15 games and move into fourth among AHL rookies in points this season (47).

Stockton controlled the play through most of the second period and generated multiple grade-A scoring chances, ultimately outshooting San Diego by a 13-1 margin. The lone shot for the Gulls marked the lowest total in any period for San Diego this season, but the club’s entered the second intermission deadlocked at 3-3.

Jankowski put Stockton back in front, 4-3, at 3:31 of the third period as he poked home the rebound off his own deflection. Enroth made the original save, but the puck sat in the crease and the rookie poked it home for his 27th goal of the campaign.

The Gulls peppered Rittich with 12 shots in the final frame, but saw their comeback bid halted when Shinkaruk potted his third goal into an empty net with Enroth pulled at 18:59 to seal the win.

Enroth stopped 28-of-32 shots on the evening, and despite the loss has posted a 12-3-0 record with two shutouts, a 1.60 goals-against average and .939 save percentage since joining the Gulls on Jan. 10.

San Diego returns home on Friday, Apr. 7 to take on the Ontario Reign at Valley View Casino Center (7 p.m.) as the Gulls will celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Anaheim Ducks 2007 Stanley Cup Championship. A limited number of tickets are available by visiting AXS.com/Gulls or by phone at (619) 359-4730.

NOTES: Kyle MacKinnon and Tyler Morley each recorded assists for San Diego…the Gulls are now 33-17-2-2 against the Pacific Division this season and 16-16-1-1 when not scoring the game’s first goal.

Three Stars:
1. Hunter Shinkaruk (STK)
2. Mark Jankowski (STK)
3. Ryan Lomberg (STK)