March 25, 2017
The San Diego Gulls (38-17-3-2, 81 pts.) saw their seven-game home win streak come to an end in a 3-1 loss to the Bakersfield Condors (30-23-5-1; 66 pts.) in front of 12,449 fans at Valley View Casino Center on Saturday night. Despite the loss, San Diego clinched a second-consecutive Calder Cup playoff berth with Stockton’s 5-4 shootout loss to Texas earlier this evening.
“Making the playoffs was one of our goals before the season started,” said Gulls defenseman Nate Guenin. “I think we expected to make it and now we need to get ready for that and hope to peak at the right time.”
The Gulls are still 10-3-1-0 in their last 14 games and have won 14 of the last 19 games (14-4-1-0). San Diego has also earned standings points in 15 of the last 20 (14-5-1-0), as well as points in 31 of 37 contests since Christmas (27-6-2-2).
San Diego came out of the gates in the opening frame peppering Bakersfield goaltender Jonas Gustavsson (8-5-1) with plenty of shots through the first 10 minutes. The Gulls best chance of the period came on a power play early in the period on Keaton Thompson’s wrist shot that rang off the post.
Late in the period with Bakersfield shorthanded once again, the Gulls momentum came to a halt when Anton Lander sniped a wrist shot over Gulls goaltender Kevin Boyle’s shoulder at 16:02 to give the Condors a 1-0 lead. Lander has notched 2-5=7 points in his last five games and 23-26=49 points in only 33 games played this season. The Gulls trailed 1-0 after the first 20 minutes even though they outshot the Condors 19-7.
Guenin took a tripping penalty at 7:43 of the middle period and Bakersfield cashed in on Joey LaLeggia’s 17th goal of the season. After some crafty passing on the power play, LaLeggia shoveled the rebound from Greg Chase’s shot past Boyle to give the Condors a 2-0 advantage.
San Diego pumped another 17 shots to the net in the second frame, but could still not solve Gustavsson. The 32-year-old stopped 44-of-45 shots to earn his fourth straight win.
Nic Kerdiles finally got the Gulls on the board at 6:52 of the third period when he deflected Keaton Thompson’s point shot past Gustavsson. The goal was Kerdiles’ first since Mar. 8 vs. SJ and Keaton Thompson’s assist gives him 0-4=4 points over the last four games.
San Diego’s best opportunity to tie the game came a few moments later when Tyler Morley’s bid off the rush hit the post. The Gulls would not get many chances after that as the Condors shut the door defensively.
Bakersfield pushed its lead back to two goals 18:08 when LaLeggia converted again on the power play. The two-goal game for LaLeggia was his third of the season and the British Columbia native is riding a four-game point streak (3-3=6).
San Diego hits the road next week to begin a three-game road trip with stops in Tucson and Stockton. The Gulls take on the Roadrunners in a set of back-to-backs (Mar. 31) and (Apr. 1) and travel to Stockton the following week to take on the Heat on Wednesday, Apr. 5 (7 p.m.) San Diego will return home on Friday, Apr. 7 to take on the Ontario Reign at Valley View Casino Center (7 p.m.). Fans can purchase tickets by visiting AXS.com/Gulls or by phone at (619) 359-4730.
NOTES: Sam Carrick added his 22nd assist of the season and now has 3-5=8 points in his last 11 games…Gulls netminder Kevin Boyle (10-5-4) made 26 saves in his fifth loss of the season…The Gulls fell to 20-12-2-1 in back-to-back games and 8-8-1-0 in the second matchup San Diego has lost two straight games for the first time since Dec. 16-17.
1. Jonas Gustavsson (BAK)
2. Anton Lander (BAK)
3. Joey LaLeggia (BAK)