Gulls Race Past Roadrunners
Sam Carrick scores twice as the Gulls set a franchise record with eighth November win.Nov 30, 2019
The Gulls defeated the Tucson Roadrunners 6-2 tonight at Pechanga Arena San Diego as 11 skaters registered points in a big win over one of the top teams in the Western Conference. Gulls captain Sam Carrick netted two goals, Daniel Sprong earned a goal and assist, and Blake Pietila, Alex Dostie and Chase De Leo each netted goals. Max Comtois recorded two assists and Jani Hakanpaa posted a career-tying +4 rating. In net, Anthony Stolarz made 22 saves to improve to 8-5-1.
With the win, San Diego concluded their 12-game November schedule with an 8-3-1-0 record to set a new club record, surpassing the 7-2-0-0 mark in November 2017.
“You can keep saying that there’s some kind of a system adjustment that we made, but when you put a focus on putting pucks on net, good things tend to follow,” said head coach Kevin Dineen. “There were some really nice plays that were made tonight and that’s one way of looking at it. We played really well.”
Just as the trend has been recently, the Gulls got on the scoreboard first when Blake Pietila netted a goal 3:41 into the opening frame. Roadrunners left wing Brayden Burke gained control of the puck along the boards in their defensive zone and passed it to Cam Dineen. The pass was slightly out of his reach and Pietila found the missed puck at the top of the slot.
Pietila wound up and fired a wrist shot past Tucson netminder Adin Hill’s blocker for an early lead. San Diego has now recorded the game’s first goal for the seventh straight contest and has opened the scoring in 11 of their last 12 games. The score also marked Pietila’s fourth goal and ninth point of the season.
Tucson evened the game at one goal apiece with 9:45 remaining in the first period on a deflection by Lane Pederson. With a delayed penalty on the Gulls, Hill left the net for the extra attacker as Tucson retained possession long enough for Nick Merkley to send a shot on net from the point. Pederson managed to get his stick on the puck, changing the direction of the shot to beat Stolarz for the goal.
Carrick scored another unassisted goal for San Diego at the 17:23 mark of the opening frame to go ahead 2-1. Dysin Mayo attempted to clear the Tucson zone, but hit Carrick instead. The puck dropped to his stick and Carrick shot the puck through the five-hole of Hill. The score marked Carrick’s ninth goal of the season.
With 1:32 remaining in the first period, Daniel Sprong extended the San Diego lead to 3-1. Isac Lundestrom and Simon Benoit connected on a pass to bring the play out of the Gulls zone. Benoit carried the puck into the corner and dropped it to Sprong at the bottom of the left faceoff circle. With a quick wrist shot, Sprong lifted the puck over Hill’s shoulder and into the net.
Tensions started to rise in the middle stanza as Corey Tropp and Jeremy Gregoire dropped the gloves. Both were booked with five-minute fighting majors. The momentum from the fight benefitted the Gulls, as they got on the scoreboard again when Alex Dostie scored 2:55 into the period.
Hakanpaa sent the puck behind the Tucson net where Comtois gained control of it and pushed it to Dostie, who was made himself available in the front of the net. The third-year center wristed a shot past Hill’s stick-side to make it a 4-1 game, marking Dostie’s third goal in as many games.
The Roadrunners cut the lead in half at the 13:52 mark of the second period on a goal by Burke on the man advantage. Beau Bennett entered the Gulls zone and dropped the puck back to Burke at the point. Burke skated in and used bodies in front of the net as a screen, which allowed his wrister to get past Anthony Stolarz.
The Gulls regained a three-goal lead on Carrick’s second goal of the night, 5:29 into the final period. Josh Mahura passed the puck from behind the net to Comtois along the boards. The right wing then found Carrick, who was open at center ice. Carrick carried the puck to the slot, stickhandling around two Tucson defensemen before he slipped the puck through Hill’s pads for the score. With the goal, the captain now leads the team with 10-6=16 points.
“It was a great game from the goaltending on up,” said Carrick. “They are a good team and they have a lot of skill. We saw that for the most part, but I thought we did a good job of shutting them down and keeping them to the outside. We scored on our opportunities, so that always helps.”
Carrick became the 20th player in the AHL to reach the 10-goal mark in 2019-20. Comtois recorded his second primary assist of the night on the play, marking his third multi-assist game of the season. Mahura picked up his second assist of the season.
The Gulls added another goal with 6:11 remaining in the third frame as Sprong’s shot ricocheted behind the net and off the end boards behind Hill, but De Leo one-timed the puck off the end board and into the net.
“It was just a good bounce, but we’ll take it,” said Sprong on the goal. “I think we got rewarded for that one. Chase (De Leo) was all over the puck tonight and deserved a goal. We got a 2-on-1 and I didn’t have the lane to pass it. The puck bounced right to him, and he earned that one.”
San Diego did not allow a shot in the third period, the first time in franchise history an opponent did not record a shot on goal. Two shots were the previous low allowed in a single period (four times; last: Jan. 22 at Ontario). San Diego outshot Tucson 30-24 and went 2-for-3 on the penalty kill.
“I might have to keep the mustache,” Carrick said. “It was a good month. I think after the start we had in October, it’s a good bounce back for us. We’re still not where we want to be in the standings, so there’s still a ton of work to do. It’s a long season and now we are taking these last seven games going into Christmas, where we are looking to win those games. Every win is going to be big.”
The Gulls three-game homestand continues with visits from Colorado on Saturday, Dec. 7 (7 p.m.) and Wednesday, Dec. 11 (7 p.m.).