March 10, 2017

Rookie netminder Kevin Boyle’s spectacular 39-save performance boosted the San Diego Gulls (34-14-3-2, 73 pts.) to a 2-1 victory over the Tucson Roadrunners (23-21-0-6; 52 pts.) in front of 12,006 fans at Valley View Casino Center on Friday night. The Gulls extended their point streak to seven games (6-0-1) and have wins in 16 of their last 19 contests (16-3-0-0) and 23 of the last 28 overall (23-3-0-1) as they climbed to one point behind San Jose in the Pacific Division.

“I was able to get into a groove early tonight,” said Boyle, who improved to 9-1-3 in his past 13 AHL appearances. “My defense made it easy on me by letting me see pucks and clearing out loose rebounds. It was a group effort all game long.”

In addition to his nine wins the last 13 games, Boyle has posted a 2.01 goals against average, .932 save percentage and one shutout dating back to Dec. 27.

San Diego improved to 8-1-0-1 against Tucson this season and has now won five consecutive home games and 11 of the last 12 games at Valley View Casino Center (11-1-0-0). The Gulls have also earned standings points in 12 of their last 14 games on home ice dating back to Dec. 26 (10-2-1-1).

The Gulls opened the scoring on the power play at 9:28 when Corey Tropp’s shot from below the left circle trickled past Tucson goaltender Adin Hill for his 12th goal of the season. Tropp’s goal extended his career high goal-scoring streak to five games. The goal also extended his point streak to seven games (5-7=12) to match a career-high set earlier this season from Nov. 5-27 (3-7=10).

Tucson went right back to the box one second after Kossila’s goal following a Christian Fischer cross-checking penalty that occurred immediately after the goal was scored. San Diego made Tucson pay a second time 22 seconds into the man advantage when recently-acquired Sam Carrick deflected Max Gortz’s shot over the shoulder of Tucson goaltender Adin Hill to double the Gulls lead at 2-0. The goal extends Carrick’s point streak to a season-high seven games (3-5=8).

“I’ve had a chemistry with my linemates since I arrived here,” said Carrick, who he has earned 3-2=5 points in four games with San Diego. “We’ve all been working hard and it was nice to get rewarded with that goal.”

The rest of the period Gulls’ rookie netminder Kevin Boyle put on a show, making 16 saves, including a couple of key stops on Tucson’s three first-period power plays.

The Roadrunners tallied another 15 shots to the net in the middle stanza and finally broke through at 18:50 of the second period when Chris Mueller finished off a two-on-one rush with a great feed from Joe Whitney. The former Gull has 1-5=6 points over his last six contests and has scored 5-6=11 points against the Gulls in the 10 meetings between the clubs this season.

A physical third period saw tempers flare at 7:29 when Tucson defenseman Jarred Tinordi’s high hit knocked Max Gortz to the ice. Nick Sorensen immediately confronted Tinordi and the two were separated by the officials. Both players were given five minutes majors for fighting, and Tinordi was assessed a match penalty in conjunction with AHL Rule 21.1 for intent to injure an opponent.

The Gulls defense and Boyle locked the game down the rest of the way, as San Diego earned its Pacific Division-leading 19th home win of the season, while the club improved to 13-3-1 in Friday games.

“I thought tonight was good for our group,” said Gulls head coach Dallas Eakins. “It was good to have that one goal lead, take it into the third and close it out like we did.”

San Diego heads north this weekend to visit the San Jose Barracuda on Sunday afternoon (1:15 p.m.). The Gulls return home to host the Stockton Heat on Wednesday, Mar. 15 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 notched his 16th assist of the season and has earned 0-11=11 assists his last 11 games…Shea Theodore recorded an assist to extend his point streak to three-games (1-5=6) and has 3-10=13 points in his last 12 games…Kalle Kossila and Andy Welinski also tallied assists for the Gulls…San Diego went 2-for-5 on the power play and has tallied a goal on the man advantage in a season-high five straight games (8-25, 32%).

Three Stars:
1. Kevin Boyle (SD)
2. Sam Carrick (SD)
3. Corey Tropp (SD)