Gulls Fall to Heat in First of Back-to-Back at StocktonMar 1, 2019
After scoring two first period goals, Stockton stormed back and added five consecutive goals as the Gulls fell 5-2 at Stockton Arena. Despite the setback, San Diego has wins in 18 of their last 26 contests (18-6-2-0) and has earned points in 25 of the last 31 games (21-6-2-2).
Despite an early 2-0 lead, the Gulls surrendered five unanswered goals for the first time this season and the power play went scoreless in four opportunities, while also allowing a shorthanded goals.
"I think it was a number of things. I think they’re a very desperate team right now with where they’re at in the standings," said head coach Dallas Eakins. "We talked about that before the game. Behind us, they’re I think No. 2 in the league in goals per game. We talked about that, the importance of not giving up odd-man rushes. It was a night we didn’t win many battles. I don’t care how deep you are, or how good you are, if you’re not going to win battles you’re not going to win hockey games."
Coming off of five days without a game San Diego came out of the gates hot, scoring a goal 2:50 into the game. After a Stockton turnover, Ben Thomson quickly made a pass down the ice to Kiefer Sherwood who dropped the puck to Chase De Leo after entering the offensive zone. De Leo didn’t take long to fire a perfect shot on net that beat Jon Gillies glove side on a difficult angle for his 17th goal of the season. Although he didn’t pick up a point on the goal, Patrick Sieloff disrupted the play and caused the turnover that led to the early goal in his first game with San Diego.
With the goal, De Leo extended his point streak to three games (1-3=4) while also recording at least one point in 11 of his previous 12 games (8-7=15). Kiefer Sherwood and Ben Thomson have been paired with De Leo recently, sharing the offensive success. With both players adding an assist on the play, Sherwood has 2-5=7 points and Thomson has five assist over the last seven games.
The Gulls extended their lead to two goals with another tally towards the end of the opening frame. Adam Cracknell won a faceoff in the Stockton’s zone and the puck was immediately thrown on net. With all three Gulls forwards in front of the crease, Jack Kopacka knocked the puck free to Kalle Kossila who scored his 11th of the season on a quick wrist shot. The goal, coming at the 14:53 mark of the first, only took five seconds to hit the back of the net following the faceoff.
Second to only San Diego in goals scored per game in the AHL (3.52), Stockton answered with a goal of their own. Just 25 seconds following Kossila’s tally, Tyler Graovac took a pass in the neutral zone and used his speed to get behind both Gulls’ defensemen. Shaking off a hook, Graovac shot the puck blocker side and beat Boyle for the Heat’s first score of the game.
Although Boyle allowed a goal in the first period, he was one of the Gulls’ best players in the opening frame. Stockton was able to record 22 shots on the net in the first, the most San Diego has faced in the first 20 minutes this season. Making 21 saves, Boyle tied a personal record for most saves in a single period, matching his 21 in the second period on Feb. 17, 2018 vs. Ontario (21-of-23).
Midway through the second period, Stockton added another two goals separated by 1:17 of game clock, taking their first lead of the game. The first was worked loose from the corner of the boards and thrown across the ice for a goal by Juuso Valimaki on a one-timer shot 8:10 into the second. Shortly after, a missed shot would bounce behind the net and directly to Buddy Robinson for a wide open net and a goal.
With an assist on the first goal and credit for the second, Robinson recorded two points in a little over a minute of action. Alan Quine accomplished this as well, adding an assist on each of the back-to-back scores.
San Diego was awarded an opportunity to even things up on the power play after Ryan Lomberg was given a two-minute boarding minor. Midway through the power play, the Gulls turned the puck over attempting to enter the offensive zone. Glenn Gawdin took the puck and used his speed to bring it into the San Diego zone. Throwing the puck on net, Gawdin got it past Boyle at the 11:52 mark of the second to give Stockton four consecutive goals. With 12 shorthanded goals this season, Stockton is now tied for second in the AHL.
"We just need to move the puck quicker and execute a little better," said Sam Carrick of the power play. "I think we kind of sat back a little too much. We were expecting them to give us an easy goal out there and that’s not going to happen this time of the year. We need to be better at moving the puck quicker and throwing it on net. That’s how we are going to get goals at this point, we need to start taking more pucks to the net."
The Heat added a fifth and final goal 13:55 into the third period to cap off an offensively dominant performance. A turnover on the blue line at the other end of the ice resulted in an odd-man rush for the Heat. After passing back and forth, Stockton’s leading rookie scorer Dillon Dube picked up his first goal and third point of the night, giving him 3-6=9 points in his last five games.
"We don’t have a lot of time to dwell on tonight too much," added Carrick. "I think guys have already prepared for tomorrow. It starts with getting some rest tonight. With the character we have with this group here, there is no doubt in my mind that we’ll come out with a better effort tomorrow and we’ll see what happens."
The Gulls will look to bounce back in a rematch and the second half of a back-to-back matchup against the Heat at Stockton Arena tomorrow night (6 p.m., Radio: Mighty 1090).