December 31, 2015

CEDAR PARK, TX – The San Diego Gulls fell behind 3-0 after the first period and could not recover, falling 6-1 to the Texas Stars in front of 4,387 at Cedar Park Center just outside of Austin, Texas. Gemel Smith had a pair of goals for the Stars (17-13-2-2), who leapfrogged the Gulls for second place in the AHL Pacific Division standings.

Andrew O’Brien scored on the power play for the lone San Diego tally, with assists from Shane O’Brien and Stefan Noesen.

The Gulls (15-12-0-1) fell into an all-too-familiar pattern of falling behind early on the road, as Texas grabbed the early lead at 3:58 when Curtis McKenzie threaded a perfect pass in between defensemen to Brendan Ranford, who was in clean on San Diego goalie Anton Khudobin for his eighth goal of the season.

Hoping to level the score with their AHL second-ranked power play unit, the Gulls instead became discombobulated moments later when a giveaway at the Texas blue line led to a short-handed 2-on-0 breakaway for the Stars. Jason Dickenson finished McKenzie’s feed for Texas’ sixth short-handed goal of the season and a 2-0 advantage at 6:30.

Derek Hulak’s backhander off a scramble in front of Khudobin dropped the Gulls behind 3-0 before the first period was over. Falling to 6-10 on the road overall, the Gulls are now 0-9-0-0 in their nine road games away from San Jose and Ontario, and have been outscored in the first periods of those games by a score of 13-3.

The second period saw Texas pad their lead behind goals from Remi Elie and Gemel Smith.

Andrew O’Brien’s score held the promise of momentum to be gained into the following night’s game, but the Gulls took 22 penalty minutes in the third period and forced San Diego to kill penalties the rest of the game.

The Gulls will need to regroup quickly as they travel to San Antonio for a New Year’s Day, 5:30 p.m. contest against the Rampage at AT&T Center.

NOTES:  Joseph Cramarossa served his one-game suspension for an instigator penalty in the final five minutes of the Gulls’ game against Bakersfield on Dec. 27 and will be available in San Antonio…San Diego has allowed the game’s first goal in ten of their past eleven losses…Stars’ center Travis Morin, who entered the night tied for the AHL points lead (34), went scoreless despite his team’s big night, finishing the month of December with seventeen points in thirteen games…the contest marked the first professional meeting on-ice between brothers Brett Ritchie (Texas) and Nick Ritchie (San Diego)…Brett Ritchie was scoreless on three shots while Nick Ritchie was scoreless on one shot while taking a season high 18 PIM…the loss was the first for Anton Khudobin in net for San Diego after three straight wins to start his Gulls career…Matt Hackett started the third period in relief of Khudobin for San Diego, stopping twelve of thirteen shots faced…Antoine Laganiere returned to the Gulls lineup after missing the past six games with a lower body injury.


1st Star: TEX Jason Dickenson (1-1=2); 2nd Star: TEX Curtis Mckenzie (0-2=2); 3rd star:  TEX Gemel Smith (2-0=2)