Gulls Open 2018-19 with 6-4 Loss at Tucson

Gulls Open 2018-19 with 6-4 Loss at Tucson

Oct 6, 2018

The San Diego Gulls opened their fourth American Hockey League (AHL) campaign with a 6-4 loss to the Tucson Roadrunners at Tucson Convention Center Arena. San Diego fell to 3-1-0-0 in season-opening games.

Four Gulls recorded multi-point games, including Sam Carrick's three-point night, while Chase De Leo (1-1=2), Corey Tropp (0-2=2)  and Joseph Blandisi (0-2=2) earned multi-point efforts. 

Carrick gave the Gulls the start they needed when he scored the fastest goal to start a season for San Diego, netting a shorthanded goal at 1:27 of the first period following a leading pass from Tropp on the half-wall at center ice. The goal marked Carrick’s sixth career shorthanded tally. 

De Leo scored his first goal for San Diego 6:13 into the contest following a workmanlike shift from Blandisi. The Markham, Ontario native skated from one half wall to another, swept the puck away from a Roadrunner defenseman and found De Leo at the far circle for a quick one-time shot past Tucson netminder Adin Hill. 

Jens Looke got Tucson on the board at 12:27 of the first period to cut San Diego's lead to one goal at 2-1 to open the season scoring for the Roadrunners, but it was again the Gulls who pushed their lead to two goals only 64 seconds later. 

While Carrick circled the Tucson net, his backhand pass found a streaking Jack Kopacka who netted his first professional goal and point at 13:23 of the first period. Carrick and Blandisi earned the helpers on the goal. The game marked Kopacka’s AHL regular-season debut, with the Anaheim Ducks fourth round selection (93rd overall) of the 2016 NHL Draft making his professional debut on May 1, 2017 at Ontario, appearing in three Calder Cup Playoff games for the Gulls.

Looke again cut the lead to two goals with 3:59 remaining in the opening frame with a back-door goal that held through the first intermission with San Diego trailing 12-8 in shots. 

San Diego again jumped out to a two-goal lead late in the second period at 16:11 when Carrick tallied his second goal and third point of the game. His power-play marker found the back of the net through HIll from the right circl with De Leo picking up the primary helper and Tropp earning his second assist of the game. 

After 40 minutes the Gulls led 4-2, but it was the third period that would be their downfall as four Tucson goals and eight San Diego penalties were too costly.

Adam Helewka scored 59 seconds into the final frame, and his second goal minutes later was quickly followed by Matteo Gennaro's goal 35 seconds later to give Tucson their first lead of the contest midway through the period. 

Michael Bunting sealed the win with his first of the game at 15:04 to round out the scoring in a 10-goal contest to open the 2018-19 campaign. Hill picked up the win for Tucson, his first of the season, after stopping 16-of-20 shots on goal.

San DIego killed a club record nine penalties while they were called for 11 minor infranctions in the game, while last season's league-leading power play was successful on one of its two attempts. 

In addition to Kopacka, defensemen Josh Mahura and Simon Benoit made their professional debuts. Ryan Tesink made his AHL debut for San Diego after signing a professional tryout earlier in the day. Jared Coreau stopped 38-of-44 shots in his San Diego debut.

Following tonight’s game, the Gulls will return to San Diego for their Home Opener on Friday, Oct. 12 vs. Tucson at Valley View Casino Center (7 p.m., TV: FOX 5 San Diego, Radio: ESPN 1700-AM).

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