March 22, 2017
The Gulls (38-15-3-2, 81 pts.) extended their home winning streak to a franchise record seven games with a 5-1 victory over the San Jose Barracuda (38-14-2-4; 82 pts.) in front of 6,555 fans at Valley View Casino Center on Wednesday night to improve to 10-1-1-0 the last 12 games. The seven consecutive wins on home ice surpass the club record set on three previous occasions, including Jan. 7 to Feb. 14, Nov. 11 to Dec. 6, 2016 and Oct. 10 to Nov. 11, 2015. With the victory, San Diego pulls within one point of San Jose for the Pacific Division lead and the top spot in the AHL with 10 games remaining for each team.
“This is just another two points for us,” said Gulls head coach Dallas Eakins on the win. “We like to live in the present and every game is important. That said, it’s nice to be able to get this one since we are chasing them.”
The Gulls are on a four-game win streak and have won 14 of the last 17 games (14-2-1-0) and 27 of the last 33 overall (27-3-1-1). San Diego has also earned standings points in 11 of the last 12 games (10-1-1-0), 26 of the last 29 (24-3-1-1), as well as points in 30 of 34 contests since Christmas (26-4-2-2).
San Diego opened the scoring at 10:53 of the first period as right off a face off Brian Cooper’s wrist shot found a way past screened Barracuda goaltender Troy Grosenick to give the Gulls a 1-0 lead. The goal was Cooper’s third of the season and first since Mar. 3 vs. Tucson.
Gulls’ netminder Dustin Tokarski (16-6-1) had a tremendous first period stopping all 13 shots he faced, his best coming on two blasts from San Jose defenseman Tim Heed to ensure San Diego kept its 1-0 after 20 minutes of play. Tokarksi made 35 saves on the night and improved to 7-0-0 with one shutout, a 2.19 GAA and .922 SV% in eight appearances since returning from an injury on Feb. 12.
“Tokarski was excellent for us tonight,” said Eakins. “We have played great defense and gotten great goaltending all season and that has translated into wins.”
San Jose forward Alex Schoenborn took an interference penalty 2:10 into the second period and the Gulls cashed in on Shea Theodore’s fourth goal of the season. Theodore took a feed from Spencer Abbott and ripped a wrist shot that beat Grosenick.
Only 1:34 later, Theodore struck again. This time the 21-year-old picked off a San Jose clearing attempt, skated into the right circle and snapped the puck by Grosenick. The goal gave Theodore (2-0=2) his second career two-goal game and first since Nov. 8, 2014 with Norfolk at Syracuse (2-0=2).
Tokarski continued his fine play in the middle frame making 16 saves, including several big stops during a late San Jose power play to keep the Barracuda of the board through 40 minutes of play.
The Barracuda got on the board with a power-play goal when Adam Helewka found Tim Heed with backdoor pass that the defenseman tapped home at 3:27 to cut San Diego’s lead to 3-1.
The Gulls would push their lead back to 4-1 at on Scott Sabourin’s sixth goal of the campaign at 14:13 off a great centering feed from Kevin Roy. Roy has a three-game point streak (1-3=4) and has 2-13=15 points in his last 18 games.
Kalle Kossila added an empty net goal late to put the game away as the Gulls concluded their season series with San Jose on a high note.
At the 18:54 mark of the third period, numerous altercations ensued after a stoppage in play that saw four simultaneous fights. Four seconds later another altercation broke out off of the ensuing faceoff in the Gulls zone. Altogether, 119 penalty minutes were levied against both clubs.
San Diego hits the road to open up a home-and-home set with the Bakersfield Condors on Friday, Mar. 23 (7:00 p.m.). The Gulls return home the next night to close out the two-game series with the Condors at Valley View Casino Center (7:00 p.m.) Fans can purchase tickets by visiting AXS.com/Gulls or by phone at (619) 359-4730.
NOTES: Max Gortz tallied his 17th assist of the season and has 2-12=14 points in his last 16 games…Corey Tropp notched an assist and has 8-5=13 points in his last 10 games…Antoine Laganiere, Jordan Samuels-Thomas and Kyle MacKinnon also picked up assists for San Diego…San Jose goaltender Troy Grosenick (26-9-3) stopped 21-of-25 shots in his ninth loss of the season.
1. Shea Theodore (SD)
2. Dustin Tokarski (SD)
3. Nate Guenin (SD)