Blandisi's Late Goal Powers Gulls to 2-1 Win Over CondorsJan 2, 2019
Joseph Blandisi scored with 70 seconds left in regulation give the Gulls a 2-1 win over the Bakersfield Condors at Rabobank Arena. The victory marks a season-high four-game win streak and extends San Diego’s standings point streak to nine games (7-0-0-2), also a season high. The Gulls have also won three straight road contests and earned points in five straight road games (3-0-0-2).
"We weren’t great for two periods, and good on our guys in the room and they got it together for the third," said Gulls head coach Dallas Eakins. "It’s great that our standards have changed. We’re up 1-0 after the first period and we were fairly upset with how we were playing. I think that just shows you part of the process of going through the season."
San Diego netminder Kevin Boyle stopped 33-of-34 shots to tie a career high with his sixth straight win and third in as many games against Bakersfield this season. During his six-game win streak, Boyle has posted a 1.97 goals against average and .930 save percentage.
“He came in ready to play at the beginning of the year, you could see it from day one,” said Gulls forward Joe Blandisi regarding Boyle. “He has been strong the whole way. Knowing that we have him back there, it definitely makes it easier to play up front.”
The Gulls got on the scoresheet first as forward Matt Berry recorded his second goal of the season 3:17 into the game. Adam Cracknell made the play possible as he drew the puck back on a faceoff to give Berry a shot that hit the glove of Condors goaltender Dylan Wells before trickling into the net.
Cracknell’s assist marked his second point in his five games with San Diego and 12th point of the season. The 33-year-old veteran rejoined the team just prior to the matchup after spending four games with Team Canada for the Spengler Cup.
Boyle carried the momentum of his strong play from previous games and stopped all 17 Bakersfield shots in the opening frame. In addition, the Gulls were perfect on the penalty kill, stopping both of the Condors opportunities on the man advantage in the period.
In the later half of the second period, Boyle was flagged for playing the puck outside of the trapezoid, resulting in a controversial two-minute minor penalty for delay of game as the third-year goaltender appeared to not have played the puck in the restricted area. Max Jones nearly extended his goal-scoring streak with a shorthanded goal as he blew past the Bakersfield defense for a breakaway chance, but was stopped by Wells blocker.
Shortly after, Condors forward David Gust picked up his fifth goal of the season on the power play as he found the puck off a Boyle rebound for the Condors' lone score at the 15:05 mark of the second period. Tyler Benson and Logan Day added assists on the play.
The Gulls took two high-sticking penalties midway through the third, giving the Condors 1:13 of a two-man advantage. San Diego successfully stopped the 5-on-3 power play, keeping the score even with the game entering the final 10 minutes.
With just over a minute left on the game clock, Luke Schenn shot the puck from the point, hitting Berry’s stick and stopping short of the net. Blandisi picked up the rebound in the low slot and released a shot of his own, beating Wells high glove-side for the game-winning goal with 1:10 left on the clock.
The Gulls stymied the Condors for the final 70 seconds of the game to earn their third straight victory away from home and earn points in a season-high five straight road games (3-0-0-2).
“It wasn’t pretty, we had a lot net front presence,” added Blandisi. “We got a puck through from the point and I was lucky enough to put it on net and it went in. You have to credit our goaltender tonight. It wasn’t our best effort as players, but some nights your goalie bails you out and you get your two points.”
Berry’s assist on the goal marks his seventh helper and ninth point in 10 games this season. It was his second multi-point performance this season and he now has eight points (2-6=8) in his last six games.
The Gulls return to San Diego to host their first game of 2019 on Friday, Jan. 4 versus the San Jose Barracuda at Pechanga Arena San Diego (7 p.m.).