Gulls Win Third Straight in 4-1 Victory Over Iowa WildFeb 2, 2019
The Gulls defeated the Iowa Wild 4-1 tonight at Pechanga Arena San Diego for their eighth win in the club’s previous nine games on home ice while outscoring their opponents 37-22 over that span. In addition, the Gulls have won 13 of their last 16 overall and have earned points in 19 of their last 21 games (16-2-1-2).
"We had an excellent third period and again, it was a great testament not only our leadership, but to our young players as well,” said Gulls head coach Dallas Eakins. “We have unbelievable high-character guys with extremely high standards and we never want to let off those, no matter what the score is.”
Kevin Boyle made 24 saves to earn his 19th win of the season, matching a career-high set last season. San Diego’s first AHL All-Star goaltender posted a 14-1-1 record in his last 16 games. He owns a 2.12 goals against average and a .928 save percentage over that span. Over his last three games, all wins, Boyle has produced a 1.00 GAA and a .955 save percentage.
“I’ve only been here for a week and a half, but every game I’ve been in, when he’s played, he’s given us a chance to win,” said Justin Kloos about Boyle. “When you have a good goalie, it makes everything on the ice more comfortable.”
The Gulls drew an early power play as Iowa’s Luke Kunin went to the penalty box for slashing. After cycling the puck in the offensive zone, Trevor Murphy threw it at the net from the point, but the shot hit Ben Street and bounced right to Kalle Kossila. After gathering the rebound, Kossila faked a shot and passed it across the ice to Andy Welinski for a one-timer that beat Iowa goaltender Andrew Hammond for a goal 3:52 into the game.
The score marked Welinski’s fifth power-play goal of the season, putting him second on the team in that category. With assists on the play, Kossila has picked up 3-6=9 points over his last six games played and Street has added 2-2=4 points in his previous three contests.
Just 1:47 later, the Wild gave up the puck behind their own net and Max Jones capitalized to double the Gulls’ lead. After the Gulls sent the puck deep into the offensive zone, Hammond tried to play the puck behind the net, but Jones pressured the goaltender, stole the puck and beat everyone back to the front of the net for the goal, putting San Diego ahead 2-0 at the 5:09 mark of the first period.
The goal puts Jones into a tie for sixth among AHL rookies in goals (13), while playing in fewer games (36) than the players ahead of him, with the exception of teammate Troy Terry (16 goals in 35 games).
The Wild got on the board late in the first frame as a rebound bounced directly to Luke Kunin in front of the net. Kyle Rau circled around the goal with the puck before sending a shot off of Joel Eriksson Ek’s foot and right to Kunin, who tapped it past Boyle, cutting the San Diego lead to 2-1 with 4:55 left in the first period.
Both teams traded big hits that resulted in several scrums after the whistle. Tensions got to a boiling point after Keaton Thompson gave Kunin a hip-check next to the Iowa bench. The two dropped the gloves and received fighting majors at the 11:31 mark of the second period.
Iowa nearly tied the game midway moments later as a San Diego neutral zone turnover sent Louie Belpedio on a breakaway. The Wild defenseman tried to beat Boyle over the glove but San Diego’s All-Star netminder was ready, making the save to protect the Gulls’ one-goal lead.
Early in the third period, Justin Kloos made a play against his former teammates to extend the lead for his new ones. After a point shot by Simon Benoit was blocked in front of the net, Kloos collected the loose puck and set up Chase De Leo with a backdoor pass. De Leo hammered home the one timer for his 11th goal of the season, extending the Gulls lead to 3-1 just 1:01 into the final frame.
The tally marks De Leo’s third goal in his last five games (3-1=4) and second in as many nights.
Sam Steel capped off the night’s scoring with an empty net goal. Kloos took a pass from De Leo down the left wing and cut to the net before setting up Steel in front. The rookie center tapped the puck into the empty net, sealing the San Diego victory at the 19:12 mark of the third period.
With two assists, Kloos has earned 0-5=5 points in six games with the Gulls since being acquired by the Anaheim Ducks in a trade from the Minnesota Wild on Jan. 16.
The Gulls conclude their three-game homestand against the Ontario Reign this Wednesday, Feb. 6 (7 p.m. PT, Radio: Mighty 1090)