Gulls Win 5-4 Shootout Thriller Over ReignMar 23, 2019
The Gulls extended their standings point streak of four games (3-0-1-0) behind a shootout-winning goal by Justin Kloos in a 5-4 win over the Ontario Reign. San Diego scored four goals in the first period, including two from Chase De Leo that matched his single-season career high of 19.
“It’s always a great game against Ontario no matter where the teams are in the standings,” said head coach Dallas Eakins. “Obviously an up-and-down game and back being even. I’ve been really proud of our games at their ability to come back and stay in the fight and their great resolve throughout this season so far.”
Ontario wasted no time taking an early lead as Brett Sutter put home a rebound 1:19 into the game for his 17th marker of the season. Kevin Boyle blocked Nikita Scherbak’s initial shot from the faceoff dot, but was unable to secure the puck, leading to the Reign score.
Ben Thomson dropped the gloves with Chaz Reddekopp as result of a scrum in front of the Reign net. A heated tilt that lasted longer than your average fight gave his team some energy and had an impact on the game.
The fight resulted in some momentum for the Gulls as they tied the game 32 seconds later. After creating some offensive pressure, De Leo collected the puck from behind the net and attempted a pass to the slot. The puck bounced off of an Ontario defender who was battling for position and snuck past Peter Budaj for a equalizing score. Simon Benoit and Sam Carrick each recorded helpers on the goal.
Just a minute after tying the game, the Gulls took their first lead of the night. Justin Kloos carried the puck into the offensive zone on right wing and fired a shot over Budaj’s blocker as result of an Ontario turnover in the neutral zone. The unassisted score gave the Gulls a 2-1 edge at the 9:09 mark of the opening period. With a goal and an assist, Kloos earned his seventh multi-point game of the season and the 16th of his career.
The first period was nearing an end, but the scoring was not. Ontario’s Cliff Watson took a tripping minor, bringing out the Gulls power play. San Diego got multiple shots on net on the man advantage, including a scoring chance by Kalle Kossila that bounced off of a Ontario skate and hit the post. Directly after, Kloos knocked the puck toward the slot. With a Budaj out of position from the previous shot, Jack Kopacka put the puck into a largely unprotected net with 1:57 left in the first. With the goal, Kopacka has found the back of the net three times in five games against Ontario this season.
An explosive first period for San Diego wasn’t complete yet, though. With an under a minute to play before the first intermission, Ontario defenseman Austin Strand tried to take a slap shot from just inside the blue line, but broke his stick. Fortunately for San Diego, the puck bounced right to Corey Tropp, who lifted a pass towards center ice. Chase De Leo raced to the loose puck, took it to the net, and beat Budaj with a wrist shot just inside the post. The goal extended the Gulls lead to 4-1 just 31 seconds after the previous goal and marked the first time this season that San Diego has scored four goals in the opening frame.
In a season that has seen De Leo set new career highs in points and assists, his second marker of the night tied his previous career high of 19 goals scored in a single season (set in his rookie season, 2015-16). Boyle also picked up his first career assist on the play, making him the fifth goalie in Gulls history to record a point.
Ontario trimmed the San Diego lead to early in the second period. After Boyle made a save with his right leg pad, the puck bounced towards the corner. Chaz Reddekopp sent it back in front, as the puck ramped up the stick of a Gulls defender, off Boyle’s back, and right to Sam Herr, who swatted it out of the air and into the net, cutting the lead to 4-2 at the 1:46 mark of the second period.
The Reign pulled back within one with a power-play goal just before the end of the middle frame as Sutter tipped a point shot past Boyle. The goal narrowed the Gulls lead to 4-3 with 2:42 left in the second period.
Midway through the final period, Matt Luff speared Patrick Sieloff and was sent to the locker room with a five-minute spearing major and a game misconduct. However, Ontario was able to hold off the the Gulls from scoring another power-play goal on the long man advantage.
Sutter completed his hat trick on a late third period goal with just 2:11 remaining in the game. The third consecutive goal for Ontario tied things up at four and forced overtime. The hat trick is the second’s of Sutter’s career and his first since Oct. 28, 2012, while playing for the Charlotte Checkers, in a 6-0 win over the Peoria Rivermen.
“There didn’t need to be a lot said,” said Gulls forward Justin Kloos. “We were disappointed about what happened, but it’s a tie game. If we were the ones to score and make it 4-4, we would’ve been fired up. We had to find a way to get two points whether it was in overtime, shootout or regulation and we did.”
The teams traded chances in the overtime period, with Chase De Leo nearly ending the game with a potential hat trick tally, but neither side could find the game-winning goal, sending the game into a shootout. Michael Amadio put the Reign on the board first, but Kalle Kossila and Justin Kloos scored back-to-back to clinch the victory for San Diego. The shootout win is the first for San Diego since Dec. 22, also against Ontario.