Gulls Eliminate Condors Following 6-2 Win, Advance to Western Conference FinalsMay 13, 2019
The Gulls defeated the top seed in the Western Conference, eliminating the Bakersfield Condors following a 6-2 score tonight at Pechanga Arena. San Diego closed out the Pacific Division Finals in six games (best-of-seven) to advance to the Western Conference Finals for the first time in club history. The Gulls will face the Chicago Wolves (Vegas Golden Knights) in a best-of-seven series beginning next week, beginning May 17 at Allstate Arena (5 p.m.).
San Diego has won the most playoff series among Pacific Division clubs since its inception in 2015 (4), surpassing the three by Texas (all in 2018). San Diego also co-leads the Pacific Division with 15 all-time playoff wins (also Texas).
Chase De Leo scored 46 seconds into the game to mark the quickest goal from the start of a playoff game in club history, surpassing Nick Ritchie’s previous mark 3:22 into the first period May 7, 2016 vs. Ontario.
“We talked about it this morning. We talked about it in our 5:30 meeting and we talked about it one more time just before they went out,” said head coach Dallas Eakins on starting the game strong. “They certainly implemented that. We came out gunning. We were by far the better team at 5-on-5. It’s a testament to their work ethic, their commitment to each other, and their dedication, all those things that go into winning a series.”
Kalle Kossila scored the following two goals to mark his first multi-goal performance in a playoff game and now ranks second in all-time playoff goals for San Diego (7). With 3-3=6 points in the last seven games, Kossila also set a personal best for points in a postseason.
Sam Carrick scored a goal and added an assist in his fourth multi-point game of the postseason, bringing him to 12 points(5G/7A). Adam Cracknell also reached 12 points (6G/6A) with an assist. Both players set a new club record for points scored in a single postseason, surpassing Chris Mueller’s 11 points in 2016. In addition, both are now tied for second in playoff scoring.
De Leo got the Gulls on the board with the quickest goal into a Gulls playoff game just 46 seconds into the contest. Andy Welinski made the breakout pass to Justin Kloos who dropped it at the blue line. De Leo collected it in full stride and got behind both defenders for a clean shot on net. Condors netminder Stuart Skinner almost got down in time, but De Leo’s five-hole shot found the back of the net for the score.
Bakersfield tied the game with a power-play goal just under five minutes later. With Jaycob Megna in the penalty box for holding, Brad Malone scored on a rebound to even the game at one with 14:46 left in the first period.
San Diego regained the lead as a result of a strong forecheck. Malone tried to clear the puck from the corner of the Condors defensive zone, but Ben Street knocked the puck down and slid it to Kalle Kossila in the slot. Kossila wasted no time, quickly firing a wrist shot over Skinner’s glove, giving the Gulls a 2-1 lead exactly halfway through the first period.
Late in the first period, William Lagesson took a roughing minor penalty and San Diego’s red-hot power play had a chance to extend the lead. After Andy Welinski held the puck in at the blue line, Kossila collected it in the left wing corner and beat Skinner up high with a wrist shot from a nearly impossible angle, putting the Gulls ahead 2-1 with 2:27 remaining in the opening frame.
Following the third San Diego goal, Bakersfield pulled Skinner from the net, replacing him with Shane Starrett who began the series as the Condors' leading goaltender. Bakersfield’s starting goaltender was pulled from all three games in San Diego.
Bakersfield got back within a goal as a long shot from Evan Bouchard snuck through traffic in front of the net and past Glass, narrowing the San Diego lead to 3-2 at the 4:29 mark of the second period.
Midway through the same period, Sam Carrick brought the puck towards the net and fired a shot at the net, but was blocked by a defender. Adam Cracknell kicked the rebound back to Carrick who slid it across the crease to Max Comtois. With nothing but the net in front of him, Comtois scored his third goal of the series, restoring the Gulls’ two-goal lead 9:34 into the middle frame.
Carrick and Comtois connected for another score just 4:07 later, bringing the lead to three goals. The play began as Carrick dumped the puck into the Bakersfield zone and freed it up behind the net. Comtois picked up the puck and made a backhanded pass back to Carrick who took attempted a shot on net. The puck snuck between Starrett and the post for the Gulls fifth goal of the game. Andy Welinski picked up his third assist of the night on the play.
Bakersfield attempted to pull their goalie for the extra attacker, but San Diego stole the puck before Starrett could reach the bench. Ben Street sealed the deal as he hit the vacated goal from center ice, capping San Diego’s 6-2 victory.
“We would have loved to have done it earlier, but getting it done at home, being able to walk off that ice and look up to those people that come and pay their good, hard-earned money to support us and be entertained, I don’t think there can be a better feeling in sports that walking off the ice after winning a series and seeing your home fans so excited,” said Eakins.
“It feels great. It’s important to not look too far forward, but we have a new challenge coming up,” said Welinski. “But yeah, we’re going to enjoy this one right now.”
The Gulls will begin the Western Conference Finals this Friday, May 17 against the Chicago Wolves at Allstate Arena (5 p.m. PT), the Central Division's top team.