Home Opener Spoiled by RoadrunnersOct 12, 2018
The San Diego Gulls opened their 2018-19 home schedule against the Tucson Roadrunners, eventually falling 3-2 in front of a near-sellout crowd. San Diego is now 2-2-0-0 all-time in home openers.
Tucson forward Michael Bunting netted the game’s first goal on a one-timer 8:20 into the opening frame. The goal would be the only one scored for both teams in the first period despite 31 combined shots on target, with San Diego edging a 16-15 advantage.
The Roadrunners stormed out of the gates in the second period as Trevor Cheek netted a backhand goal on a pass from behind the net 5:15 into the frame. Just 69 seconds later, Trevor Murphy added another score with the primary assist by Michael Bunting, creating a 3-0 lead early in the second.
Gulls forward Pontus Aberg, in his Gulls debut, had an immediate impact with the team, scoring a flashy goal on a backhand shot at the 8:42 mark of the second period. In addition, he also registered a game-high six shots on net. The Anaheim Ducks assigned Aberg to the Gulls on Oct. 9.
To give the raucous San Diego crowd the excitement of a potential comeback, Sam Carrick tipped in a goal past Tucson goaltender Hunter Miska with 3:28 seconds left in regulation. However, the Gulls 44 shots were not enough to warrant a win for San Diego as they dropped the first two contests of the season for the first time in club history.
Several other Gulls’ forwards played in their first game of the 2018-19 season including Logan Shaw and Mitch Hults, who each had primary assists on the team’s two goals.
Rookie Jack Kopacka also appeared on the score sheet for the second consecutive game, registering his first career assist tonight to earn points in each of his two first professional games (1G, 1A), both against Tucson.
Kevin Boyle started his first game of the season for San Diego, stopping 29-of-32 shots.
“There’s a whole lot to like from my end,” said head coach Dallas Eakins. “I think if we can play that way, minus those two mistakes, we’re going to win a lot of hockey games.”
“We played pretty well,” said Aberg. “We got the puck to the net, we just need a little extra touch to finish. We're going to bring the second and third period with us tomorrow.”
The Gulls open up a 12-game season series against the Ontario Reign tomorrow at Citizens Business Bank Arena (6 p.m., Radio: ESPN 1700-AM).