Heat Win 2-1 as Late Goal Stuns GullsMar 30, 2019
Stockton’s Juuso Valimaki scored with 13 seconds remaining in regulation as the Gulls fell 2-1 to the Heat at Pechanga Arena. Goaltender Kevin Boyle made 30 saves in the setback while Adam Cracknell scored San Diego's lone goal.
“This is life in this league,” said San Diego head coach Dallas Eakins. “There are times where you have a loaded up lineup and you’ve got everybody here. Then you get to times where you’re missing seven or eight players. This one definitely hurts, but we’ll have to shake it off, leave it here tonight, and move on.”
During the opening frame, the Gulls and Heat traded chances, including a two-on-one with Ben Street and Brent Gates Jr. that Jon Gillies was able to stop. The game remained a scoreless tie after 20 minutes of play as the Gulls outshot the Heat 15-9.
It was more of the same in the second as the two high-scoring offenses failed to find the back of the net. Coming into the game, San Diego and Stockton were tied for second in the AHL in goals scored per game (3.52).
San Diego nearly broke the scoreless tie in the waning moments of the middle period. With less than five seconds still to play, Corey Tropp got to a loose puck in the corner and sent it to Adam Cracknell, who was uncovered in front of the net. Cracknell’s shot beat Heat goaltender Jon Gillies, but not the clock. The period expired before the puck completely crossed the goal line, keeping the game scoreless through 40 minutes of play.
Although they were unable to get on the scoreboard heading into the break, the Gulls made up for it by scoring early into the final period. Gillies was unable to secure the puck after a shot by Keaton Thompson from the slot and a rebound found its way to Matt Berry who threw it on net again. After a another save, Berry found the rebound again, but this time he passed across the crease to a wide open Cracknell for the game’s first goal 2:01 into the third.
Cracknell has recorded a point in each game that he has played against Stockton this season, picking up 5-5=10 points in five games.
Stockton evened the game a little over six minutes later. Spencer Foo took the puck from behind the net towards the left faceoff circle before turning and firing a wrist shot that beat Boyle just inside the short side post, tying the game at one with 11:39 to play in the third period.
With the game tied in the final minute, it looked like the game would need overtime to find a winner, but a late goal sealed the win for Stockton. After a broken play led to a loose puck in the Gulls defensive zone, Matthew Phillips spun around and took a long shot on goal. The puck bounced off Boyle’s blocker and directly to Juuso Valimaki, who beat the netminder on the rebound, putting Stockton ahead 2-1 with 13 seconds remaining in regulation.
Despite the setback, the Gulls killed all four of the Heat’s power plays. Tonight marks the ninth time the Gulls have not allowed a goal on the man advantage in their 12-game March schedule, going 40-44 (90.9%) over that span.
The Gulls will open their five-game April schedule on Wednesday, Apr. 3 against the San Jose Barracuda at SAP Center (7 p.m.).