Gulls Losing Skid Hits FiveJan 8, 2020
The Gulls dropped the opening matchup of a two-game series against the Iowa Wild 3-2 tonight at Pechanga Arena San Diego. Sam Anas scored two goals for Iowa, Mitch McLain scored the game winner with 8:46 in regulation, Mat Robson stopped 28 shots as the Wild earned their fourth straight win.
Tonight marked the first Iowa victory in San Diego, with the Gulls holding a 5-1-1-0 record in seven all-time games, including a 3-1-0-0 mark on home ice.
“The whole game we didn’t have our best effort,” said Blake Pietila. “Too many turnovers and too many breakdowns in the neutral zone and in our end. Stolarz kept us in it and he’s our best player. Just one mistake too many. It was just one of those nights. I don’t think it was for lack of effort. I thought guys were working. It was just sloppy play and the puck wasn’t bouncing for us.”
Despite the setback, Sam Carrick scored a power-play goal and the team killed all three Iowa penalties and have negated the opposing teams’ last 13 power plays, marking season-high for the AHL club.
The first period was highlighted by several saves on both ends of the ice, including several odd-man rushes. The Gulls were given a power play late in the frame when Mitch McLain was given a delay of game minor for batting the puck with his hand on a faceoff. However, San Diego was unable to record a shot on the man advantage.
Antoine Morand was whistled for hooking with 1:25 remaining in the opening period. The penalty carried over into the second frame after the Gulls killed the first portion of the Wild power play. Iowa outshot the San Diego 10-9 through the first 20 minutes of the contest.
After San Diego killed the Morand penalty, they used the momentum to break the scoreless tie, as Pietila scored his seventh goal of the season 2:39 into the middle stanza. Justin Kloos passed the puck to Hunter Drew at the point, who sent a low shot towards the net. Mat Robson made the initial save on Drew, as well as Pietila’s shot off of the rebound. However, the winger kept hammering away at the puck in the crease as the puck found its way through Robson’s pads. With an assist, Kloos has now recorded 4-3=7 points over his last six games.
The lead didn’t last long as Iowa’s leading scorer Sam Anas answered with a score of his own just 1:37 later. Nick Seeler fired a shot at the net, but it was blocked by Nico Sturm in front of Anthony Stolarz. The puck redirected to Gerald Mayhew, who quickly moved the puck to Anas in the slot for the goal.
Iowa took their first lead with 6:44 left in the second period when Anas scored his second goal of the evening. Mayhew received a pass in the neutral zone and sliced his way into the Gulls zone. He dropped the puck to J.T. Brown and he rifled a slap shot that was saved by Stolarz, but the rebound dropped to Mayhew’s stick and he sent a no-look pass to Anas in front for the goal.
San Diego received a power play with 4:10 remaining in the middle frame after Iowa was called for too many men. Chris Mueller won the initial faceoff to Sam Carrick at the point and it took all of five seconds from the faceoff for his slapshot to beat Robson, as San Diego tied the game 2-2. Carrick extended his goal streak to four games (5-0=5) and has posted 12 goals in his last 13 games with the Gulls (12-2=14, +12). In addition, Mueller tallied his first point with the Gulls this season.
“We won the faceoff and I shot it with a good net-front screen,” said Carrick. “Those are the plays we are looking to do more of. For me, it starts on the breakouts. That’s one area we can be a little better. Getting the breakout, getting set up and then we can make our plays from there.”
Louie Belpedio was whistled for tripping with 56 seconds left in the period. The Iowa penalty had an excess 1:04 heading into the final frame after the Wild killed the first segment of the infraction. The Gulls and Wild remained tied 2-2 after 40 minutes of play, despite the Wild leading 34-22 in shots.
Iowa held San Diego to just one shot on goal on the man-advantage, as the teams reset to even strength early in the third period. Back-and-forth action highlighted the first half of the final period.
Shortly after Robson denied Jack Kopacka on a breakaway, the Wild retook the lead on a breakaway chance of their own as Mitch McLain would not be stopped with 11:14 remaining. Brown cleared the puck from the Wild zone to McLain in the neutral zone, and he played the puck off the side board to avoid a Gulls defender and elevated his shot to the top corner of the net.
Mahura was called for a kneeing penalty with 2:02 remaining, as Iowa was granted their third power play of the game. Stolarz was pulled with 39 seconds left for the extra attacker. Pietila passed to Wideman at the point, who got the puck to Carrick at the opposite point. Carrick returned the pass to Wideman as he cut to the back door, but the shot attempt went wide and the Wild held on to win 3-2.
“I feel like sometimes, teams come into San Diego, it’s sunny out and it’s nice,” said Gulls head coach Kevin Dineen. “We want to make it miserable for them to be here on the ice and we haven’t done a good enough job of doing that. That is the overall feeling right now, we have to be a harder team to play against.”
The Gulls will return to action against the Wild on Friday at Pechanga Arena San Diego (7 p.m.).