Game 4 Preview: Gulls vs. Condors

Game 4 - Preview Gulls vs. Condors

May 10, 2019

The Gulls host the Bakersfield Condors in a pivotal Game 4 of the Pacific Division Finals in a contest that could swing momentum for either team tonight at Pechanga Arena (7 p.m.). Coming off a 7-6 overtime win two nights ago, the Condors will look to even the series at 2-2 while the Gulls will look to take a firm grasp on the series with a 3-1 lead. 

The Gulls will look to bounce back from the overtime loss on Wednesday night in Game 3. Wit the Gulls protecting a one-goal lead in the final minute of regulation, Bakersfield rookie Tyler Benson converted on a rebound opportunity to tie the game. The Condors would get the game-winning goal 33 seconds into overtime courtesy of defenseman William Lagesson to earn their first win of the series in a game that saw multiple leads changes.

San Diego trailed 1-0 and 3-1, and eventually took 4-3 and 6-4 leads only to see Bakersfield claw their way back into the contest with two-third period goals to force the second OT of the series.

After two tight-checking, defensive games to open the series, Game 3 saw more scoring chances at each end of the ice. In total, six different players scored goals for San Diego and 11 different Gulls recorded a point. Adam Cracknell helped lead the way for the Gulls once again, posting his second consecutive three-point game (1-2=3) and tie a Gulls postseason record with a goal in his fourth-straight game. He also now has a five-game point streak (4-5=9) dating to Game 2 of the First Round on Apr. 18, and now leads the Gulls in postseason scoring. He also has the longest active goal-scoring streak and is tied with teammate Chase De Leo for the longest goal streak of the playoffs. 

“It’s tight. Teams are looking for playoff-type goals around the net and are getting bodies there,” said Cracknell. “It’s easy to say but it’s hard to do. Teams are doing a good job of getting our sticks and making it hard to get to the net. We’re doing a good job ourselves and maybe we have to do a better job ourselves, as well.”

Sam Steel (1-1=2), Kiefer Sherwood (1-1=2), and Jacob Larsson (0-2=2) also posted multi-point efforts. With eight points (4G/4A) in the postseason, Steel ranks second among rookie playoff scoring leaders. Max Comtois, who scored the game-winning goal in each of his first two games of the series, picked up an assist to extend his point streak to three games (2-1=3).

The Gulls offense picked up right where it left off at the conclusion of the regular season. San Diego finished the regular season second among AHL clubs with 3.51 goals for per game (239 total), trailing only Bakersfield (3.56, 242 total). The Gulls currently lead the Calder Cup Playoffs with 4.43 goals per game.

San Diego’s power play has been lethal throughout the playoffs when given a chance, and it did so again in Game 3, scoring two goals in the four opportunities. San Diego ranks second among active playoff teams with a 27.8 percent success rate on the power play (5-for-18). The Gulls have scored all five of their power-play goals over their last five games to capitalize on five of their last 13 chances (38.5%).


Game 4 Preview - Gulls Seek Series Advantage 

After scoring just three goals over nine periods of the first two games of the series, Bakersfield found their scoring touch once again. In Game 3, the Condors exploded with seven goals, including the first ever playoff hat trick for Joe Gambardella who also picked up two assists. Brad Malone recorded four points (1G/3A) and Tyler Benson picked up three points (1G/2A). 

Although the Condors regained some offensive production, the team’s star goaltender Shane Starrett was pulled after allowing four goals, including three in a span of 2:47 in the second period. It marked just the second time all season that the rookie goaltender has been relieved in a game. Stuart Skinner was tasked to close out the contest, stopping 10-of-12 shots to win his first playoff game in his Calder Cup Playoffs debut. 

After the emotional rollercoaster Game 3 presented, the Gulls will go back to basics tonight, and that starts with controlling their emotions regardless of the situation and playing their brand of hockey in front of a large crowd that has become synonymous with San Diego hockey. 

“We’re just trying to stay even keel. In the playoffs your emotions can get out of control,” said Sam Steel. “Whether we give up two or score two, we’re trying to stay level-headed and just focus on our game, what we need to do, and not get too excited or too down. It’s easy to say but when you’re in the moment, emotions rise. Sometimes they can benefit and sometimes they can hurt you. We just have to control them.”

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