Gulls Use The Force, Sweep Weekend Set with Ontario
Chris Wideman records third-straight multi-point game in the winNov 16, 2019
Anthony Stolarz collected his career-high seventh consecutive victory with 27 saves as the Gulls completed the back-to-back sweep against the Ontario Reign with a 5-1 win on Saturday night at Pechanga Arena. The win marked the fourth straight on home ice as San Diego improved to 7-1-0-0 in the month of November, co-leading the AHL in wins this month.
The Gulls have scored 20 goals the last three games (6.67 goals-per game), the most goals in a three-game stretch in franchise history (previous: 16, Apr. 6-10, 2016). The team has scored 41 goals the last seven games (5.9 goals-per game), while the club’s 51 goals this season is tied for the most scored through the club’s first 14 games (also 2018-19). San Diego’s 27 goals on home ice through six games is also the most in club history to date (previous: 24 in 2016-17).
“I don’t know what really changed or clicked, but the last little while, everyone’s been contributing and doing their job,” Chase De Leo said. “Everything’s just clicking right now. It’s nice to get that win and get back to .500 on home ice, in front of the best fans in the league.”
De Leo, Justin Kloos, Daniel Sprong, Kiefer Sherwood and Hunter Drew netted goals for the Gulls, with Chris Wideman collecting his third multi-point game his last three games, and Sam Carrick and Alex Broadhurst earning assists to extend their point streaks to six and five games respectively.
The Gulls sustained pressure in the Reign zone and put multiple shots on net, however Reign goaltender Cal Petersen made some impressive saves to keep the score even throughout the first period. Ontario was unable to clear the zone and picked up a hooking penalty with 5:14 left in the period. Despite the Gulls maintaining puck possession for the majority of the man-advantage, the Reign killed the penalty.
The opening frame ended with a scrum, resulting in two-minute minors for both Sheldon Rempal and Max Comtois. For the first time this Gulls season, the first period ended in a scoreless tie following 20 minutes of play. San Diego was unable to score on the lone power play of the period, but led Ontario in shots 12-8.
Just 36 seconds into the middle stanza, the Gulls got on the scoreboard thanks to De Leo’s third goal of the campaign. Due to the minor penalties at the end of the first, San Diego had extra space on the ice with the four-on-four play allowing Carrick to Chris Wideman at the hash marks in front of Petersen. Wideman waited for an opening in front before shooting the puck at the Ontario net. After the initial shot was stopped, De Leo pushed the rebound past Petersen for the first goal of the contest.
“Last year, that’s where I found success,” De Leo said on going to the net. “I’m going to go back there this year and hopefully keep getting rewarded.”
Carrick assisted on the play to push his point streak to six games (7-2=9) and De Leo now has 2-2=4 points in his last three games played. The Gulls have scored the first goal of the game in six of their last seven contests.
San Diego extended the lead to 2-0 when Justin Kloos scored a shorthanded goal with 13:49 remaining in the second period. Wideman picked up the puck in the Gulls zone and passed it to Comtois, who found Kloos darting into the neutral zone. Kloos skated past a Reign defender, corralled the puck off the side boards and backhanded the puck past Petersen. The score marked the Gulls fourth consecutive goal on the penalty kill and their seventh shorthanded goal in the last seven games.
“Things have been bouncing our way lately,” said Kloos regarding the recent shorthanded success. “You don’t want to cheat too much with your offense on the penalty kill, cause the number one thing you’re doing out there, is keeping the puck out of your net. It’s been going well. We have opportunistic guys and hopefully we’ll keep that going.”
With his second assist of the period, Wideman now has 3-6=9 points in his previous four games played. Wideman moved into a tie for the league lead among defensemen with 6-8=14 points in 13 games.
The Gulls racked up three penalties within 1:24 at the end of the second period, resulting in an extended power play for the Reign. San Diego managed to kill the five-on-three power play brought on by first two penalties, but Wideman’s slashing penalty carried 56 seconds into the final period.
San Diego started off the third period by killing the remainder of the Wideman minor, improving to 4-4 on the penalty kill. Up-and-down action ensued for the next eight minutes, but the Gulls received an opportunity on the man advantage with 10:57 remaining when Drake Rymsha interfered with Stolarz. The Reign didn’t help their cause by adding a roughing minor, by Mikey Eyssimont, setting up a five-on-three advantage for the Gulls for 49 seconds. With just one shot on net by the Gulls, Ontario successfully killed off the two-man advantage.
“That was as big as it gets. It really was. Usually when you kill a long 5-on-3, it’s a deciding factor in the outcome of a game” said head coach Kevin Dineen. “For us, it not only kept them off the scoreboard, but what an incredible uplift for the teammates and even more important, for the guys in the penalty box. You’re sitting there watching your guys blocking shots, winning faceoffs, taking hits and your goalie making those big saves. Pretty spectacular effort all around.”
The Reign scored their first goal to cut the Gulls’ lead to 2-1 with 7:11 left in the third frame. Rempal won a battle for the puck on the boards and passed the puck to Kale Clague at the point. Clague stepped into a slapshot and fired the puck past Stolarz.
The Gulls received another power-play opportunity and cashed in on the man-advantage with a goal by Daniel Sprong that deflected off of a Reign defenseman and into the net with 4:34 remaining. Alex Broadhurst won a center-ice draw, kicked the puck back to Jani Hakanpaa, who sent the puck to Sprong in the Gulls zone. Sprong carried the puck through the neutral zone, weaved through a pair of Reign defenders and sent a shot towards the net that was accidentally deflected into the net by a Reign defender
The Reign pulled Petersen with a little over three minutes remaining in regulation in an attempt to even the score with the man advantage. During a push in the San Diego zone, Simon Benoit gained control of the puck in front of the net and passed it to Comtois who sent a leading pass to Sherwood at Ontario’s blue line. Sherwood outskated the Ontario defenseman and pushed the puck into the empty net to make it 4-1 with 1:29 left on the clock.
Shortly thereafter, Broadhurst carried the puck through the Reign defense and passed the puck to Blake Pietila who attempted a shot that went wide. Broadhurst collected the puck behind the net and sent the puck to Hunter Drew at the point. Drew sent a laser of a wrister from the high slot, past Petersen to make it 5-1 leaving 31 seconds remaining to round out the scoring.
As the final buzzer rang, a scrum ensued near the Gulls bench. The game concluded with Reign forward Jacob Doty receiving a two-minute penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct in addition to a 10-minute misconduct and a game misconduct equating in 22 minutes at the conclusion of the game. Doty was the only player penalized at the game’s conclusion.
“It’s a competitive league and you want to win every single game,” said De Leo. “When you play the same team that many times, it’s bound to happen. We’re all going to stand up for each other and protect each other in this room, and we expect the same from them.”
The Gulls will have a week to rest after playing five games in seven days before returning to action this Saturday, Nov. 23 against the Stockton Heat on home ice.