Gulls Open Preseason with 5-2 Win Over OntarioSep 26, 2019
Blake Pietila's hat trick leads Gulls in comeback win over Reign to begin preseason.
The Gulls overcame an early two-goal deficit with five unanswered goals and a hat trick from Blake Pietila to open their 2019 exhibition schedule with a 5-2 win over the Ontario Reign at Toyota Arena. Jack Kopacka and Corey Tropp each netted goals while Anthony Stolarz stopped 30-of-32 shots in his first appearance in a Gulls sweater.
"They were fun to play with, Kloos and Dostie were dishing the puck and it was just finding open ice," said Pietila following the game. "It was one of those days where things were going in for me. It’s nice to see the group being able to recognize what was going on in the game, simplify things and play a much simpler style. It worked out for us."
Ontario jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period courtesy of a Matt Luff opener at 7:03 of the opening frame and an Olivier Galipeau goal to double the lead at 13:14. But it would be the Gulls who shook off some early rust from a 10 a.m. start to mount a five-goal comeback and quiet a frenzied crowd of a few thousand kids for the Reign’s annual Cool School game.
The momentum would turn for San Diego after the second Ontario goal as Luke Gazdic and Jacob Doty immediately dropped the gloves and engaged in a spirited, heavyweight bought at the Gulls blue line.
It was the second period that changed the momentum and the outcome for San Diego. Alex Dostie set up Pietila twice in a span of 4:49 to even the game at 2-2 early in the second period. Dostie and Pietila entered the offensive zone with Dostie’s shot caroming off Reign goaltender Cole Kehler’s pad and left the newcomer Pietila with a wide-open net to tap in San Diego first goal 1:03 into the middle frame.
Minutes later Dostie created space for himself down low and found Pietila on the back post again at 5:52 of the period to knot the game at two apiece.
Kopacka scored the eventual game winner that would give the Gulls their first lead of the day, rushing up the right wing and converting on a breakaway attempt through the legs of Matthew Vallarta with 2:33 remaining in the second period.
"(Alex Broadhurst) made a great play on the back check and hit the puck loose," said Kopacka. "I just looked up and saw I had room so I just kind of took off and closed my eyes. I think it shows a lot of character early on. Like I said, we got those jitters out after the first period. We settled down and held on to the puck a little bit longer. We stuck with our game and got five. "
Pietila completed his hat trick 55 seconds in the third period on a back-door tap in from Justin Kloos who had skated from the slot to the bottom of the right circle to find the 26-year old forward on his strong side. Tropp would extend the lead to three just minutes later when his first goal of the preseason found the back of the net at 3:11 of the final frame.
These two teams fill face off again in four days when the Gulls host their final preseason contest Monday, Sep. 30 at Honda Center (7 p.m.). The game and parking are free of charge.