April 12, 2017
The Gulls (41-20-3-2, 87 pts.) clinched home-ice advantage in the First Round of the Calder Cup playoffs with a 5-1 win over the Bakersfield Condors (32-28-5-1; 70 pts.) in front of 7,271 fans at Valley View Casino on Wednesday night. The Gulls will take on the Ontario Reign in a best-of-five series beginning on Friday, Apr. 21 at Valley View Casino Center (7 p.m.).
“We’ve been very good at home this year so having home-ice against Ontario is big for us,” said Gulls head coach Dallas Eakins. “We really feel like our crowd is an extra skater out there and that’s a big advantage.”
The Gulls improved to 13-6-1-0 in the last 20 games and have wins in 23 of their last 32 contests (24-7-1-0) and 30 of the last 41 overall (30-9-1-1). San Diego has also earned standings points in 18 of the last 26 (17-8-1-0), as well as points in 34 of 43 contests since Dec. 26 (30-9-2-2).
Keaton Thompson (1-1=2) opened the scoring for the Gulls at 11:09 of the first period as he snapped home his fourth goal of the season. Nick Sorensen picked up an assist on the play in his first game since Mar. 8 vs SJ after missing eight games due to injury.
Bakersfield struck back at 14:37 when Josh Currie buried a centering feed from Jesse Puljujarvi. The assist on the play gave the 19-year-old Puljujarvi a three-game point streak (1-2=3). San Diego almost regained the lead late in the frame, but Bakersfield netminder Nick Ellis (15-11-2) robbed rookie Kalle Kossila with a great pad save.
A majority of the middle period was dominated by the goaltenders as Gulls netminder Jhonas Enroth (15-5-0) was sharp as he made several big stops during two Bakersfield power plays. On the other end, Ellis made a great save on Spencer Abbott’s breakaway attempt to keep the game tied.
Late in the period, Sorensen jumped off the Gulls bench and took a stretch pass from Brian Cooper and finished off a breakaway by slipping a backhand through Ellis’ five-hole to give the Gulls a 2-1 lead at 15:12. The goal gave Sorensen (1-1=2) his fourth multi-point game of the season and first since Feb. 14 vs. Iowa (0-2=2).
Kevin Roy pushed San Diego’s lead to 3-1 at 5:20 of the third period as he deflected Nate Guenin’s shot through Ellis. The goal marked Roy’s 15th of the season and first since Mar. 31 at Tucson.
The rest of the period belonged to Enroth as the Swedish veteran made 13 saves to keep the Condors at bay. Enroth improved to 13-4-0 with a 1.65 GAA and .939 SV% in 17 game with San Diego since being acquired from Toronto on Jan. 10.
Antoine Laganiere scored what looked to be the final goal of the evening when he added an empty-net goal at 17:48 to put the Gulls up 4-1. But with 0.1 seconds left in regulation, Tyler Morley’s blast beat Ellis and the Gulls skated off with a 5-1 victory.
“We haven’t scored a lot of goals lately,” said Eakins. “Getting five tonight will definitely help a lot of guys’ confidence going forward.”
The Gulls hit the road for the final time this season as they open up a back-to-back, home-and-home series with the Ontario Reign on Friday, Apr. 14 at Citizens Business Bank Arena (7 p.m.). San Diego returns home Saturday night to close out the regular season against Ontario at Valley View Casino Center (7 p.m.) All fans in attendance will receive a Gulliver bobblehead. A limited number of tickets are available by visiting AXS.com/Gulls or by phone at (619) 359-4730.
NOTES: Jordan Samuels-Thomas picked up his 12th assist of the season and has 1-3=4 points in his last five games. Deven Sideroff recorded his first professional point with an assist on Tyler Morley’s goal…Spencer Abbott, Kyle MacKinnon, Nate Guenin and Nic Kerdiles all recorded assists for the Gulls…San Diego finished their eight-game season series against Bakersfield with a 6-2-0-0 record (3-1-0-0 at home)…Bakersfield goaltender Nick Ellis stopped 20-of-24 shots in his 11th loss of the campaign.
1. Jhonas Enroth (SD)
2. Nick Sorensen (SD)
3. Brian Cooper (SD)