Gulls Move Into Playoff Position
Maxime Comtois sets club record for longest rookie goal streakFeb 22, 2020
The Gulls find themselves in playoff position following a 6-3 win over the San Jose Barracuda Saturday night at Pechanga Arena San Diego. The point streak continues for San Diego as the club has earned points in five straight games (4-0-1-0) as well as 12 of their last 13 games (9-1-3-0).
Max Comtois recorded his first career multi-goal effort in a career-best three-point game (2-1=3), extending his goal streak to five games (6-2=8) to set a Gulls rookie record for consecutive games with a goal. Chase De Leo, Alex Broadhurst and Josh Mahura each recorded two assists in tonight’s contest. Sam Carrick, Isac Lundestrom, Chris Mueller and Blake Pietila also recorded goals, as Kevin Boyle earned his sixth win of the season with 34 saves.
The Gulls recorded the opening goal for the third consecutive game as Comtois scored 4:24 into the opening frame as he surpassed Troy Terry for the longest rookie goal streak in club history. Comtois dug a Chris Wideman point shot out of San Jose goaltender Josef Korenar’s pads and pushed the puck over the goal line.
“I think it’s just moving my feet a little bit more, especially in the defensive zone, getting out of the zone quicker,” Comtois said about his line’s recent success. “Obviously, being with [Broadhurst] and [De Leo] really gives me a second boost. We’re so hard on the forecheck, it’s really easy to read off them. The puck goes in right now, so I’m not going to complain, but I’m very happy with the way we play as a team, we’re really good, we’re really strong when we have the puck and we have to keep going.”
Lundestrom extended San Diego’s lead to 2-0 with 8:31 left in the first period as he deked to his backhand around Korenar for his fifth goal. Josh Mahura’s seam pass sprung Lundestrom whose goal marked points in back-to-back games for the second-year center.
Just 39 seconds following Lundestrom’s score, Mueller netted his 17th to give the Gulls a three-goal lead. Immediately following a faceoff win from Mueller, Scott Moldenhauer fired a shot that the veteran center tipped from wide of the net back across to conclude the first-period scoring.
Comtois scored his second goal of the night 5:18 into the second period to push the San Diego lead to 4-0 as he snapped a wrist shot past Korenar following a Broadhurst past in the slot.
“I think it’s the power of confidence, all of a sudden you break the seal and things start flowing pretty easily,” said head coach Kevin Dineen about Comtois’ recent offensive success. “He’s not only scoring goals, but he’s scoring nice goals. He’s going to the net and he’s scoring in a lot of different ways. He had a beautiful shot tonight and we need that as a team. It’s good to see him get that and let’s hope it’s the old theory that once it starts flowing, it keeps coming.”
For the second consecutive game, Keegan Kanzig dropped the gloves as he and Jacob Middleton faced off in a fight that negated a San Jose 3-on-1. San Jose used the momentum from the tilt to get on the board 9:50 into the middle stanza when Thomas Gregoire netted his fifth of the season.
The Barracuda cut the lead to 4-2 with 8:00 remaining in the second frame. After a failed attempt to clear the puck from the Gulls defensive zone, Jeffrey Viel corralled the puck above the faceoff circle and shot a wrister that deflected off of Boyle’s glove and into the net.
After San Jose center Max Letunov was sent to the box for a delay of game penalty, the Gulls converted on the man-advantage leaving just 4.7 seconds remaining in the second period. Comtois would pick up his third point of the night as his pass was corralled by Broadhurst who later found Carrick whose snap shot hit the back of the net to give San Diego a 5-2 lead going into the third period. The Gulls continued to lead in shots 27-25 heading into the second intermission.
San Jose cut the Gulls lead to 5-3 with 1:44 left in the final frame with a power-play goal of their own with Daniel Sprong in the penalty box for cross-checking. The Barracuda pulled Korenar to set up a 6-on-4, and Lean Bergmann scored after receiving a pass by Lukas Radil in the crease.
Just 16 seconds later, the Gulls regained the three-goal lead as Pietila hit an empty net with Korenar pulled. The goal secured the 6-3 victory and vaulted the Gulls past Ontario and into fourth place in the Pacific Division standings.
“I think it’s the first time all year that we’ve been in a playoff spot, so that’s definitely in the back of our minds,” said Carrick. “That’s our end goal, we want to make the playoffs and Ontario’s been playing really well lately and there’s a few other teams that seem to keep winning. We’ve done a good job in these last 10-to-15 games of getting points and finding ways to win and we’re looking to keep doing that.”
The Gulls will embark on a club record long seven-game road trip beginning Wednesday, Feb. 26 at Tucson (6:05 p.m. PT). The road trip will also include stops in Stockton (Feb. 28, 7 p.m.), San Jose (Feb. 29, 1:15 p.m. PT; Mar. 6, 7 p.m. PT; Mar. 7, 7 p.m. PT), and Tucson (Mar. 10-11, 7:05 p.m. PT).