Street and Boyle Lead Gulls to 4-1 Win Over StarsJan 26, 2019
Ben Street scored two goals and added an assist as the San Diego Gulls won their final game prior to the AHL All-Star break in a 4-1 road win over the Texas Stars at the H-E-B Center at Cedar Park.
The Gulls have earned points in 17 of their last 19 games (14-2-1-2) and wins in 11 of their last 14 contests overall. Their eighth road win over their last 10 games concluded the the month with a 9-2-1-0 record, the most wins by the club in January all-time and second-most wins in a calendar month in franchise history (10 in February 2017). The win also snapped the Stars' 12-game home point steak.
"Over the last month here our team has been able to dig in when needed and rebound when needed. I thought we were really well led by our veteran guys," said head coach Dallas Eakins. "Our forwards have worked extremely hard. They appreciate that saving a goal has the same affect on the scoreboard as scoring one. I thought we had a great commitment from our forward group."
Kevin Boyle stopped 24-of-25 shots for his 17th win of the season, moving him into a tie for second place in the AHL in wins. The 26-year-old netminder has won 12 of his last 14 starts (12-1-1), posting a 2.28 goals-against average (GAA) and .925 save percentage (SV%) in that span. He is also 7-0-1 his last nine road contests with a 2.18 GAA and .936 SV%, and has not dropped a game in regulation since his first road contest on Nov. 3 at Ontario.
"We wanted to come out and really avenge what we did last night and come out and play our game, and I think we did," said Boyle. "We played a good game tonight. Going into the break with the win is huge."
With Sam Carrick and Samuel Laberge both in the penalty box, the teams skated 4-on-4. Street used the extra ice to his advantage as he took the puck from his own zone and went around several Texas defencemen before passing it to Corey Tropp in front of the net. Tropp was left undefended and was able to tap in the feed from Street for the first score of the game at the 7:40 mark of the first period.
With the tally, Tropp now has 10 goals on the season, a mark he has reached in each his last four seasons. Jaycob Megna picked up the other assist on the score, his third helper over his last four games played.
Just 2:23 after Street helped create Tropp’s goal, he added a tally of his own. After winning a faceoff back to Jacob Larsson, Street crashed the net and Larsson fired a wrist shot toward the net. Street was able to get his stick on the puck and redirect it past Texas goaltender Philippe Desrosiers for his first tally with San Diego. It also marked his first multi-point game with the Gulls and the 103rd of his career (20 multi-goal games and 42 multi-assist games).
"I think in the second, it got into a bit of a track meet that we didn’t want to be in," said Street. "Once we went up 3-0, we kind of loosened up our game a little bit and it was a big focus for us as an adjustment in the second intermission. I didn’t think we gave up a whole lot in the third, which was what our goal was and definitely shut the game down and made sure we got the win."
In his second game back from missing 35 games due to a wrist laceration, rookie Jack Kopacka scored from the top of the faceoff circle 7:07 into the second period. Before scoring, Kopacka showcased tremendous patience and ability to create space, backing up Texas defenders and firing a shot to the back of the net. Fellow rookie Sam Steel fed Kopacka the puck in the neutral zone to add an assist and has gained at least one point in eight of his last 10 games.
Texas answered shortly after, scoring a goal 1:25 after Kopacka’s tally. Stars leading goal scorer Joel L'Esperance was the recipient of the tally, beating Boyle blocker-side on a breakaway with Gulls defencemen caught pinching. L’Esperance’s score marked his 23rd of the year, moving him into a tie for the league lead in goals.
Midway through the final frame of the game, Texas’ Eric Condra received a pass from the corner of the rink leaving him alone for a shot on Boyle. However, the Gulls’ netminder slid across the crease and made an incredible glove save to keep the San Diego lead at two goals.
Following another great save by Boyle, the Gulls drove the puck to the other end of the ice passing back-and-forth until Megna took a shot on net. Once again, Street was in front of the net to deflect the puck, gather the rebound and net his second goal of the night, his 21st career multi-goal game.
Patrick Eaves earned his first point as a Gull with an assist on the score, his first AHL point since Dec. 6, 2013. Megna picked up his second helper of the game for the 10th multi-point game of his career and his eighth with two or more assists.
Boyle will make will make his first career All-Star appearance, and be part of a Pacific Division roster, in the 2019 Lexus AHL All-Star Classic presented by MGM Springfield, to be held January 27-28 in Springfield, Mass. Boyle will participate in the Skills Competition on Jan. 27 (4 p.m. PT, NHL Network) and the 2019 AHL All-Star Challenge on Jan. 28 (4 p.m. PT, NHL Network).
"It’s awesome, it’s an absolute honor," said Boyle of being named to the All-Star Classic. "I’m looking forward to it for sure, but there are a bunch of guys on this team that could’ve been in that spot."
San Diego will have five days off prior to its next game on Friday, Feb. 1 vs. Ontario (7 p.m.). The Feb. 1 contest will open a three-game homestand at Pechanga Arena San Diego with visits from Iowa (Saturday, Feb. 2, 7 p.m.) and Ontario (Wednesday, Feb. 6, 7 p.m.).