Sam Steel Scores Four Points and Overtime Winner to Down CondorsMar 13, 2019
Sam Steel scored just shy of two minutes into overtime to cap off a career-tying four-point game and a 5-4 win over the Bakersfield Condors.
San Diego’s special teams was nearly perfect as the Gulls scored three power-play goals in addition to all six Condors power play opportunities. San Diego has now killed 24 consecutive penalties dating to the first period on Mar. 1 at Stockton, a span of six games, to mark their third longest streak in club history.
The Gulls erased 1-0, 2-1 and 4-3 deficits to force overtime and ultimately down the Pacific Divisoni's top team that had won 20 of its last 22 games.
"We showed some fight which is really encouraging. We really battled hard defensively over our last three games, including tonight," said Gulls head coach Dallas Eakins. "Tonight, getting down like we did in the third, it wasn’t like air going out of the balloon, our guys really dug in and showed some mental toughness and intestinal fortitude.
Gulls goaltender Kevin Boyle stopped 26 shots to set a new career high with his 20th win and become the first netminder in club history to reach the 20-win mark The milestone win surpasses his previous club record 19 wins set in 2017-18. Boyle improved to 4-1-0 with a .922 save percentage in five games against Bakersfield this season.
The Gulls found themselves on the penalty kill six minutes into the first period, but were able to prevent Bakersfield from capitalizing on the power play. Just 19 seconsa after eliminating the first Condors man advantage, Braden Christoffer took control of the puck behind the Gulls net and quickly dished it to Tyler Vesel who was all alone in front of the net. Boyle made an effort to cover the open side of the net, but Vesel got his shot off quick to get the Condors on the board at the 8:19 mark of the opening frame.
Six minutes later, San Diego found themselves on a power play of their own as Chase De Leo drew an interference call on William Lagesson. Towards the end of the power play, Steel faked a pass and dragged the puck around a Bakersfield defender before dishing it to Justin Kloos. In his first game against Bakersfield with the Gulls, Kloos spun around, bringing the puck to forehand and shot it past Shane Starrett for his 14th goal of the season 10:20 into the first.
"I think I’ve made a lot of progression over the year and learned a lot about the little parts of the game. The coaches have been really good and are always trying to help me out so I definitely feel like I’ve become a better player."
It took Bakersfield 2:15 into the second period to break the tie and regain the lead. After an icing call against San Diego, the puck was brought back into the Gulls zone for a faceoff. It took less than a few seconds from the drop of the puck for Tyler Benson to take the puck and rip a shot past Boyle’s blocker for his 12th goal this season. Cooper Marody won the faceoff that resulted in the goal, giving him the lone assist on the play. Marody has recorded a point in 13 of his past 14 games, totalling 5-12=17 points over that span.
On their second power play of the night, the Gulls took a page out of the Condors playbook and scored quickly off the draw with 2:25 remaining in the middle period. With Cameron Hebig off or hooking, the faceoff was brought into the Bakersfield zone. The puck was dropped and Kalle Kossila tied up his opposition center. A Bakersfield defender attempted to poke the puck away, but it went directly to Jack Kopacka. Wasting no time, Kopacka brought the puck to his backhand and backhanded the puck from the slot to beat Starrett over the blocker.
The Gulls came out of the second intermission quickly and took their first lead of the game. De Leo shook off a Condor defenseman before going behind the Bakersfield net with the puck. As Sherwood was charging to the front of the net, De Leo gave him a centering pass. Sherwood put home a goal to give the Gulls their first lead of the game 2:11 into the final frame. The goal marks Sherwood’s 12th point the last 15 games (4-8=12).
The 3-2 lead didn’t last long as Bakersfield answered with two quick goals in a span of 51 seconds. The first came from Lagesson, who took a drop pass from Vesel and threw a hard wrist shot from long-range to the back of the net at the 3:16 mark of the third. Bakersfield found the net again quickly, this time on an odd-man rush with four skaters, as David Gust passed the puck to Mitch Callahan for a glove-side goal.
It would be a Gust slashing penalty that changed the tide of the game. The minor infranction gave San Diego their fourth power play of the game. After spending the first minute cycling the puck, Steel dished a pass to Andy Welinski who let a one-timer rip from the blue line. Untouched, the goal went right past Starrett for the fourth goal given up on his blocker side tonight. The goal marked his seventh power-play goal this season, tying his career high set last season. Tonight marked the third time that San Diego has netted three-or-more PPG this season (last: Mar. 6 vs. Stockton; 4-for-8). Welinski continues to pace San Diego defensemen in points (8-9=17), goals and PPG.
Tied at four, the game required extra time for the third time through nine games in the season series. The Condors had a great opportunity to end the game early on, but the Gulls took control and barely let Bakersfield touch the puck after. Making the most of a near turnover, De Leo took back the puck and gave Steel a pass that sent him on a breakaway. Steel deked from the forehand to the backhand, opening Starrett's pads for his first career overtime goal and first second four-point game.
"Lately I’ve just been feeling good," said Steel. "Whether I’m getting points or not, I feel like I’m doing the little things right and getting some chemistry with some line mates there."
Steel's four point game also marks his eighth multi-point and fourth multi-assist game, bringing him to 6-4=10 points over his last eight games. With his second assist of the night and team-leading 27th of the season, De Leo gained his 12 multi-point game of 2018-19.
"I think it was big. We talked about it before the game. I think you constantly remember what’s happened to you recently. Obviously getting shut out a couple games, but then you think about Bakersfield. They had beat us handily the last couple games we had played but the reality was is that we had beat them five times, they had beat us twice and they had us once in a shootout. 5-2-1 against that team. I thought it was important for us to remember that and remember that we’re not a bunch of underdogs here. It’s time for us to step up and show these teams that we can play with them as well.
The Gulls will continue their three-game road trip against the Manitoba Moose at Bell MTS Place on Sunday, Mar. 17 (12 p.m. PT) and Tuesday, Mar. 19 (5 p.m. PT).