Gulls Clinch Series with 5-2 Win Over BarracudaApr 24, 2019
The Gulls defeated the San Jose Barracuda 5-2 in Game 4 to clinch the First Round series, 3-1, at SAP Center. San Diego advances to the Pacific Division Finals to face either the Bakersfield Condors or Colorado Eagles in a best-of-seven series beginning next week.
“I think it says a lot about our group in there, those guys that lace up their skates,” said head coach Dallas Eakins. “They’re a tight group. Obviously, they know that playing on the road is tough to do, but they welcome the challenge. I think it says tons about our leadership group. Even the leadership of the younger guys, jumping in there and playing a real solid road game.”
San Diego advances to the Pacific Division Finals for the third time in four seasons, and is the only team in the division to advance beyond the First Round on multiple occasions. With their third series win all-time, the Gulls also matched Texas (three in 2018) as the only Pacific Division clubs to win three series’ since the division’s inception in 2015.
The Gulls join Toronto (4) as the only AHL clubs to advance to the Division Finals on three or more occasions (Grand Rapids, Hershey and Syracuse have done so twice each and are currently still in the midst of their respective First Round series’).
San Diego won both road contests of the series to improve to 7-0-2-0 their past nine road games dating to the regular season, in addition to points in 24 of the last 28 road contests (18-4-4-2).
Sam Steel recorded his first ever game and series-winning goal as well as an assist for his second multipoint game of the First Round . Steel joined Nick Ritchie as the only Gulls players to begin a postseason with points in the first four games (3G/3A) and the only rookies to score a goal in three consecutive.
Chase De Leo scored an empty-net goal to seal the win, marking goals in all four games of the series to become the first Gull to score in the first four games to begin a postseason and series. De Leo also tied the club mark for goals in a series (4) set on four previous occasions (last: Sam Carrick in the 2017 Pacific Division Finals vs. San Jose).
De Leo also owns the longest goal streak in Gulls postseason history (4-1=3), surpassing the three straight games with a goal by Carrick in from May 6-12, 2017 in the 2017 Pacific Division Finals (3-1=4). De Leo finished the series leading San Diego in goals and co-leading the AHL playoffs in goals.
Sam Carrick scored his second goal of the series to mark his sixth postseason goal for San Diego, a new club record. His sixth career playoff goal (6-7=13) surpasses the five scored by Chris Mueller in 2016. Carrick recorded 2-4=6 points in the series to lead San Diego assists and co-lead the club in scoring.
The Barracuda started Game 4 strong jumping out to a 1-0 lead just 50 seconds into the opening period. Lukas Radil forced a turnover at the Gulls blue line and Alexander True came up with the puck in the high slot, brought it from one side of the ice to the other, and fired a shot that trickled through Glass’ pads and into the net.
In the middle of the opening frame, Antti Suomela made a stretch pass down the ice to Matt Fonteyne who found his way behind both Gulls defensemen. San Diego goaltender Jeff Glass stretched out to make the save and keep the San Jose lead at just one.
Glass stopped 30-of-32 shots to earn his third win of the postseason. Glass also improved to a perfect 4-0 with a 1.73 goals-against average (GAA) and .944 save percentage (SV%) with his second straight road win of the series. He also posted a 3-1 mark in the series with a 2.32 GAA and .917 SV% in four contests.
At the 15:46 mark of the first period, San Diego recorded its second shot of the night and beat Korenar. Ben Street fought for the puck after it was dumped into the offensive zone. Although Street never made contact with the puck, his forecheck allowed Corey Tropp to take possession. Taking the puck behind the net, Tropp made a backhand pass to Sam Carrick who puck a puck past Korenar from the slot.
“Those are exactly the kind of goals that we want to score,” said Sam Carrick on his goal. “That’s a playoff goal. All I did was chip it in deep and (Ben Street) was awesome on the forecheck. He got in there, tied up the guy, poked the puck free and (Corey Tropp) was the second forward there. He drew two guys to him and left me all alone in front. I had the easy job just putting it in the net so credit to my two linemates there for getting the job done.”
Prior to Carrick’s goal, San Jose was outshooting San Diego 10-1. In a turn of events, the Gulls registered nine shots and limited the Barracuda to just one in the final 4:14 of the period to enter the intermission with an 11-10 shot total.
The Gulls took that momentum into the middle frame and quickly found themselves on the power play following a double minor for high-sticking. Shortly after the Barracuda killed the first of the two penalties, Kalle Kossila won a faceoff to Steel in the offensive zone. The Gulls cycled the puck before Andy Welinski fired a slap shot past Korenar from the blue line 3:43 into the second period. The goal marks Welinski’s first career playoff goal and his second point of the series.
Exactly three minutes later, the Gulls extended their lead to two goals. Max Jones broke up a pass by San Jose’s Keaton Middleton from the corner of his own zone. The puck deflected directly to Steel who wasted no time in picking up his third goal and sixth point of the series on a wrist shot from the slot. Max Jones was credited with an assist to give him four assists in as many games played this postseason.
Nick Desimone cut into the Gulls lead at the 13:39 mark of the period with time just about to expire on Kiefer Sherwood’s slashing penalty. John McCarthy played the puck back to the blue line where DeSimone collected it, attempted a slapshot and scored.
Another takeaway by the Gulls in the offensive zone led to another San Diego goal 5:12 into the final period. Jack Kopacka stole the puck at the blue line and brought the puck around a Barracuda defender towards the slot before passing it across the ice to Matt Berry. Adam Cracknell redirected Berry’s shot to retake the two-goal lead.
San Jose had several opportunities to score and attempt to even the game, but Glass stood tall and stopped all 12 shots in the final period.
Chase De Leo sealed the fate of San Jose with an empty-net goal through a San Jose defender from a difficult angle. The goal, coming with just 1:53 remaining in the game, would be the final goal of the series as the handshakes would follow and the Gulls would advance to the Pacific Division Finals.
“It’s going to be nice to let the bodies recover,” added Carrick regarding the anticipated time to recover heading into the Pacific Division Finals. “Not everyone is playing at 100 percent right now so guys are going to be able to heal up a little bit here in a week. We want to keep the momentum going at the same time. We’re not going to take too much rest here and get out of shape. We’re going to keep the pedal to the metal here and probably have some hard practices to stay in game shape. We’ll be ready to go for the next series.”
The Gulls Pacific Division Finals opponent (Bakersfield Condors or Colorado Eagles), dates and times will be released by the AHL at a future date.