Gulls Burned By Heat on Home IceNov 23, 2019
The Stockton Heat have the Gulls number.
The Gulls got an early lead, but surrendered four goals in the second period and fell 4-1 to the Stockton Heat at Pechanga Arena San Diego. Despite the setback, San Diego celebrated their second Hockey Fights Cancer Night and have wins in seven of their last nine games (7-2-0-0).
Despite scoring 20 goals the previous three games, the well ran dry tonight as Heat goaltender Jon Gillies made 30 saves.
“Pucks at the net are one thing, but if you don’t have bodies, or the ability to have the screen and be there for those rebounds, that’s the difference,” said head coach Kevin Dineen. “Our starts have been very good. We didn’t have one tonight, even though we came away with a 1-0 lead, I don’t think we had a great start.”
Midway through the opening 20 minutes of play, Matthew Phillips gave Stockton their best scoring chance of the period. Phillips received the puck on a quick pass from behind the net and fired a shot from the left side of the slot. The puck hit a Gulls defender and went over the head of Anthony Stolarz. Sam Carrick raced in and swatted the puck out of the area, preventing a Stockton goal.
At the 12:35 mark of the first period, Chase De Leo stole the puck in the Gulls zone and embarked on a breakaway. Gillies stood tall in net and stopped De Leo’s wrister with a pad save.
Jack Kopacka broke the deadlock late in the first period on an unassisted goal with 2:20 remaining in the opening frame. Chris Wideman attempted to clear the puck along the boards and out of the Gulls zone, but Heat defenseman Corey Schueneman stopped the puck at the blueline. Kopacka quickly broke up the play and created an odd-man rush. Electing to shoot the puck instead of pass, Kopacka fired the puck past Gillies for his third goal of the season.
The early lead looked hopeful for San Diego as they entered the game with a 7-1-0-0 mark when scoring first.
San Diego held the 1-0 lead heading into the second period largely in part to Stolarz play in net. The Gulls were outshot 18-12 through 20 minutes of play, the most shots they have allowed in a first period this season.
Stockton got on the board with two quick goals to start the second period. Despite an extended shift for the Heat, Mason Morelli won a battle for the puck on the forecheck, passed it to the point, received a pass back from Adam Ruzicka and scored a goal to tie the game 1-1 with 2:56 into the middle frame.
Just 1:08 later, Stockton scored their second goal of the game when Byron Froese lifted a backhanded shot over the glove of Stolarz. The play went under official review as just 13 seconds prior, Carrick had a scoring chance that appeared to go in. However, after video confirmation, the puck was deemed to have hit the post and never crossed the goal line.
The Heat continued their strong forecheck as Ryan Lomberg beat two Gulls players for the puck on a dump-and-chase effort. Lomberg passed the puck to Zac Leslie at the point, who put a threw a wrist shot towards the net from a tough angle. The puck found its way through traffic and into the net as the Heat goal pushed the lead to 3-1 with 7:22 remaining in the second period.
Stockton was flagged on two penalties in quick succession, granting San Diego a 5-on-3 power play for 1:49. Halfway through the two-man advantage, Rinat Valiev broke his stick, giving the Gulls a major opportunity. After a scrum for the puck in the corner, the puck rolled to the stick of Gillies, who cleared the puck out of the zone. The Heat managed to finish off the remainder of their penalty kill, despite the Gulls registering six shots on goal, holding the 3-1 lead.
After Simon Benoit picked up a minor penalty for hooking, the Heat cashed in on the man-advantage to extend the lead to 4-1 with 2:10 left in the second period. San Diego won the initial faceoff and cleared the puck, but Stockton set up a give-and-go between Justin Kirkland and Alan Quine to enter the Gulls zone. Kirkland passed the puck to Glenn Gawdin, who cut to the front of the net and tapped the puck passed Stolarz.
“They were executing better than we were. They were just outworking us,” said Kopacka. “They’re a really skilled team throughout their entire lineup. When we play them, we just have to know we have to outwork them.”
After stopping all 18 shots in the first period, Stolarz allowed four goals on nine shots in the second period. Kevin Boyle relieved Stolarz at the beginning of the third period.
The Gulls defensive style of play dictated the flow of the game in the third frame, as Stockton was held without a shot on goal for the first 10:51 of the period before Buddy Robinson was stopped by Boyle for his first save of the evening. Boyle would save all four shots he faced.
In an attempt to close the gap in scoring, San Diego pulled Boyle with 3:11 remaining in the third period for the man-advantage. The Gulls managed two shots on goal with the empty net, which evened the shots on goal for each team at 31, but neither resulted in goals, as the Heat held on to win 4-1.
“We had the same amount of shots, but they executed and buried down on their chances and we just didn’t do that,” said Kopacka.
The Gulls conclude their three-game homestand Wednesday, Nov. 27 vs. the San Jose Barracuda at Pechanga Arena (7 p.m., TV: FOX 5 San Diego).