Feb. 25, 2017
The Gulls (30-14-2-2, 64 pts.) won for the 12th time in its last 14 games with a tightly contested 3-2 win over the Rockford IceHogs (21-25-8-3; 53 pts.) in front 10,077 fans at Valley View Casino Center on Saturday night. Tyler Morley scored the game-winning goal in the third period, Jaycob Megna (1-1=2) contributed a multi-point effort and rookie goaltender Kevin Boyle (6-3-3) made 30 saves in his first appearance since Jan. 22 in the victory.
“We played okay tonight,” said head coach Dallas Eakins. “Obviously we want to be better. But we still found a way to win and that’s the important thing as we head down the stretch and into the playoffs.”
San Diego swept the two meetings with Rockford this season and concluded their eight game set against the Central Division this year with a 6-1-1 record. The club has now won 19 of the last 22 games (19-3-0-1) and earned standings points in 18 of the last 20 games overall (17-2-0-1).
The IceHogs opened the scoring only 1:31 into the opening frame when Mark McNeill’s blast above the right circle beat Boyle to give the visitors an early 1-0 edge.
Four minutes later the Gulls tied the game as Brandon Montour’s slap shot from the blue line found a way past Rockford goaltender Jeff Glass for his 13th goal on the campaign. The two-time AHL All-Star was reassigned by the Anaheim Ducks to San Diego earlier in the day after appearing in seven games with the NHL club this month.
Jaycob Megna gave San Diego a 2-1 lead at 12:16 of the first stanza with his fifth goal of the campaign. Megna currently has a three-game point streak (1-3=4), matching a career-high set on two previous occasions (last: Feb. 7-Feb. 10, 2017).
The Gulls ran into penalty trouble late in the period when Nick Sorensen and Nic Kerdiles took minor penalties within 11 seconds of one another. With a few key saves from Boyle and some timely blocked shots, San Diego killed off the 5-on-3 and took a 2-1 lead into the first intermission.
Rockford earned another power play three minutes into the second period and finally capitalized when defenseman Ville Pokka put home the rebound of Michael Latta’s shot to tie the game 2-2.
San Diego regained the lead at 4:28 of the third frame when Tyler Morley took a pass from Scott Sabourin, skated between the face off dots and beat Glass for his third goal of the season. Sabourin’s assist gives the enforcer 1-3=4 points over his last six games. Morley’s tally ended up being the game-winner, the first of his career.
“It feels good to get that goal and win the game for us,” said Morley. “Two hard-working teams grinded it out tonight and we got the points in the end. That’s all that matters.”
The rest of the period belonged to the Boyle and the San Diego’s defensive unit. Boyle made 11 saves in the period, while his defensemen cleared out some dangerous rebounds to give the Gulls their eighth win in their last nine home games.
San Diego hits the road for the first half of a home-and-home series against the Tucson Roadrunners on Feb. 28 (6 p.m. PT) and return home to cap off the two-game set at Valley View Casino Center on Saturday Mar. 3 (7 p.m.). Fans can purchase tickets by visiting AXS.com/Gulls or by phone at (619) 359-4730.
NOTES: Kevin Roy added his 23rd assist of the season and has 1-8=9 points over his last nine games…Corey Tropp registered an assist and has 5-9=14 points in the last 13 games….Kalle Kossila, Scott Sabourin and Ryan Garbutt each tallied assists for San Diego…The Gulls improved to 19-11-2-1 in back-to-back contests and 9-7-1 in the second game…Rockford goaltender Jeff Glass (6-6-1) stopped 28 of 31 shots in his sixth loss of the season…
1. Jaycob Megna (SD)
2. Tyler Morley (SD)
3. Ville Pokka (RFD)