Gulls Return Home to Stop Roadrunners in 5-2 WinFeb 20, 2019
The Gulls opened a two-game homestand with a 5-2 win over the Tucson Roadrunners at Pechanga Arena San Diego. The Gulls have seven wins their last 11 games (7-3-1-0) and in 17 of their last 23 (17-5-2-0). San Diego has also earned points in 24 of the last 28 games overall (20-5-2-2).
The Gulls have matched the best start in club history on home ice through 24 games, posting a 15-7-1-1 record and 32 points (also 15-7-1-1 in 2016-17). In addition, San Diego continues to lead the AHL in goals-per game (3.64) while the 180 goals this season (excluding shootout goals) is the most through 50 games in club history.
Goaltender Jeff Glass stopped 34 shots in the fourth win of his seventh consecutive starts. Glass also earned an assist on the Carrick goal, his second assist of the season and first as a Gull. He also earned an assist on Oct. 13, 2018 with Toronto vs. Utica. Glass became the fourth goaltender in Gulls history to record an assist and the first since Jhonas Enroth earned an assist on Feb. 3, 2017 at Ontario.
“He’s a great teammate and he works extremely hard,” said Gulls head coach Dallas Eakins. “He’s had a quite a journey, from where he was at in Toronto, to getting here, to really supporting Kevin [Boyle] when he was on a roll, and now he’s getting his chance. It’s always good to see a guy play well and the guys play hard in front of him in games like that.”
The Gulls came out of the gates hard, determined to change the course of their season series against the Roadrunners by getting on the board early. Kalle Kossila took a pass in front of the net and attempted to slide it past Tucson goaltender Adin Hill, but was denied on the opportunity. With several defenders quickly swarming him, Kossila passed back the rebound to Adam Cracknell who had nothing in between him and the back of the net. The goal, coming 1:35 into the opening period, marked Cracknell’s 11th of the season and his seventh over his last nine games played.
The lead would not last long as a shorthanded goal pulled the Roadrunners back even. With Brayden Burke in the box for high-sticking, the Gulls turned it over at the offensive blue line and Hudson Fasching got to the loose puck for a breakaway. Fasching faked to his backhand before lifting the puck over Glass’ glove, tying the game at 5:11 of the first period.
Later in the first period, the Gulls would get another opportunity with the extra skater and this time they capitalized, courtesy of an outstanding individual effort by Sam Carrick. After the Roadrunners cleared the puck down the ice, Josh Mahura left it behind the Gulls net for Carrick, who raced down right. Carrick split two Roadrunner defenders just inside the blue line before firing a wrist shot just under the crossbar, giving the Gulls a 2-1 lead with 8:09 left in the opening frame. Gulls’ goaltender Jeff Glass picked up an assist on the play, his second of the season and first as a Gull (last: Oct. 13, 2018 w/ TOR vs. UTI).
The goal is Carrick’s 26th of the season, putting him third among AHL scoring leaders and just one shy from the league lead. With his score on the man advantage, he has four power-play goal over the last three games. In addition, his three-game goal streak (4-1=5) marks the fourth time this season that he has scored in three or more consecutive games.
San Diego made up for their shorthanded goal allowed by scoring one of their own on their first penalty kill of the game. Chase De Leo broke up the Roadrunners’ entry into the Gulls’ zone before Jacob Larsson found the puck and threw it down the ice to Sam Steel. Closely pursued by a Tucson defenseman on a partial breakaway, Steel elected to shoot early and beat Hill glove-side with 5:34 remaining in the period. Steel joined Carrick by also extending his goal scoring streak to three games (3-1=4) with the first shorthanded tally of his career. De Leo’s assist gives him 7-5=12 points in his last 10 games played.
The Gulls pushed their lead to three goals as Cracknell set up Kossila with the puck coming into the offensive zone. On an odd-man rush, Kossila released a quick wrist shot past Hill for his 10th of the season, the third consecutive season that he has scored 10 or more goals. Cracknell picked up his 53rd career multi-point game and now has 7-7=14 points in his previous nine games with the Gulls. Also picking up an assist was Trevor Murphy against his former team, extending his point and assist streaks to three games (1-4=5).
The San Diego lead reached four as the Gulls made the Roadrunners pay for a defensive zone turnover. As Tucson tried to clear their defensive zone, Ben Thomson stole the puck behind the net and centered it for De Leo, who set up a wide-open Kiefer Sherwood on the back door for the goal, putting the Gulls ahead 5-1 at the 13:39 mark of the middle period. With two assists on the night, De Leo set a new career-highs in assists (24, 2017-18) and tied a career-high in points (40, 2015-16). With the goal, Sherwood has 2-3=5 points in his last five games.
The Roadrunners cut the lead to three with an early third period goal. Dakota Mermis held the puck in along the blue line before setting Jeremy Gregoire in front of the net. Gregoire beat Glass through the five-hole, cutting the Gulls advantage to 5-2 with 18:51 left in the game.
However, the Roadrunners would not be able to score again, giving San Diego their first win against Tucson this season in their first game against them since Dec. 5, 2018.
“I think it's a completely different team than what we had at the beginning of the year. Ever since December rolled around, we are a completely different team,” said Cracknell. “Our mentality of taking it to teams every night, especially at home. The way we played tonight, especially the first two periods and a little bit of the third, that’s what we have to be to be a championship team. When you play teams like San Jose and Tucson, you’re going to have to play them in the playoffs. We want to establish dominance and play a hard game.”
The Gulls will conclude their two-game homestand on Saturday, Feb. 23 vs. the San Antonio Rampage (7 p.m. PT, Radio: Mighty 1090) when they host their first-ever Country Night.
Note: Tonight marked the 2,000 game for an Anaheim Ducks primary affiliate. Since 1993 beginning with the San Diego Gulls of the International Hockey League (IHL), Anaheim’s top affiliates have combined for a 927-813-166-94 record.