April 21, 2017

The San Diego Gulls dropped Game 1 of their best-of-five series with the Ontario Reign by a 3-2 score in front of 9,075 fans at Valley View Casino Center on Friday night. Ontario forward Jonny Brodzinski (2-0=2) scored the game-winning goal with 11.7 seconds left in regulation and netminder Jack Campbell made 32 saves as the Reign took a 1-0 series lead. The series continues with Game 2 tomorrow night in Ontario at Citizens Business Bank Arena (7:00 p.m.).

“It looked like that one was going to a fourth period,” said Gulls head coach Dallas Eakins. “That’s the kind of game we are going to get. They are going to be close and the team that leaves the least amount on the table is going to win.”

A physical first period saw the teams trade plenty of chances through the first 10 minutes. The goaltenders responded with big stops as Ontario netminder Jack Campbell stoned Kevin Roy, and Gulls goaltender Jhonas Enroth made a great save off T.J. Hensick.

Ontario opened the scoring at 12:32 of the opening frame when Brodzinski took a feed from Adrian Kempe just inside the blue line and blasted shot over the blocker of Enroth for his third career playoff goal. San Diego earned a power play late in the period but could not beat Campbell as they trailed 1-0 after the first 20 minutes of play.

The Reign doubled their lead 3:16 into the middle stanza and on T.J. Hensick’s fourth career playoff goal. Hensick corralled a pass from Michael Mersch above the faceoff circle and roofed a wrist shot past Enroth to extend Ontario’s lead to 2-0.

A pivotal moment in the second period came when Gulls’ forward Nick Sorensen was hooked on a breakaway attempt and was awarded a penalty shot at 6:45. Sorensen deked to his backhand, and lost control of the puck and was denied by Campbell to keep the score 2-0 in favor of Reign. The penalty shot attempt marked the first in Gulls playoff history and eighth overall in team history. Jordan Samuels-Thomas scored on the Gulls’ only attempt this season (Dec. 29 at Texas, shorthanded).

Sam Carrick got the Gulls on the board at 10:03 of the middle frame as he one-timed a cross-ice pass from Andy Welinski by Campbell. The goal marked Carrick’s first since Mar. 10 vs. Tucson and Welinski’s assist was his third-career playoff point.

That was a great pass by Andy,” said Carrick on the goal. “It felt good to get the crowd into it and we started to push the pace a little bit.”

The Gulls took an ill-advised penalty for too-many-men on the ice at 12:51 and looked to have a lost a little of their momentum. All of that changed when Kalle Kossila forced a turnover at the San Diego blue line and slid a head-man feed to Nic Kerdiles who beat Campbell with a snap shot to tie the game 2-2. Kerdiles’ goal marked the second shorthanded goal in team playoff history (Cramarossa, Apr. 29, 2016 vs. TEX). The clubs were tied 2-2 entering the third period.

Each team had their chances in the third period, but neither could find the back of the net for the first 19 minutes of the frame. The teams looked to be headed to overtime, but with a little under 20 seconds remaining in regulation Adrian Kempe took the puck from Welinski behind the Gulls’ net and found Brodzinski who buried the game-winner with 11.7 seconds on the clock.

“That was a one-time mistake that we probably won’t see again,” said Eakins. “The important thing to realize is that for the majority of the game we were playing very well. That’s what we have to focus on going forward.”

The series shifts to Ontario for Game 2 tomorrow night at Citizens Business Bank Arena (7:00 p.m.). The Gulls return home for Game 3 next Friday, Apr. 28, at Valley View Casino Center (7:00 p.m.) A limited number of tickets are available by visiting or by phone at (619) 359-4730.

NOTES: San Diego fell to 1-2 all-time in Game 1…four Gulls made their Calder Cup Playoff debuts (Keaton Thompson, Brian Cooper, Kevin Roy, Nick Sorensen)…Spencer Abbott and Kalle Kossila each notched assists for San Diego…Gulls netminder Jhonas Enroth (0-1) stopped 27 of 30 shots in the loss…Ontario forward Sam Herr (0-2=2) recorded his first professional playoff point in a multi-point effort…Adrian Kempe (0-2=2) also tallied two assists in his third-career multi-point playoff game.

Three Stars:
1. Jonny Brodzinski (ONT)
2. Nic Kerdiles (SD)
3. Sam Herr (ONT)