Final: Gulls 5, Heat 6

Gulls Stunned with 12 Seconds in Regulation, Fall 6-5 to Heat

Nov 23, 2018

Curtis Lazar shocked the Gulls with 12 seconds remaining in regulation with a shorthanded goal to seal a 6-5 win at Valley View Casino Center to conclude San Diego's season-long five-game homestand.

With a power play to close out the remaining 50 seconds of regulation, Stockton exited the zone and as Lazar came down the left side, a Gulls defenseman lost an edge and went down to give the Heat forward space to seal the win.

"I thought there were great stretches in the third period where we played very, very well," said head coach Dallas Eakins. "To lose a game like that, with a guy catching an edge and going down, I don’t even know if it’s a mistake. It’s an unfortunate event."

Despite three-point performances from Sam Steel (2G/1A) and Corey Tropp (2G/1A), the Gulls surrendered a third-period lead as Stockton scored three goals in the final 15 minutes. 

Giovanni Fiore put San Diego on the board early with a perfect wrist shot over the shoulder of Stockton goaltender Jon Gillies just 2:38 into the game. The opening score marks Fiore’s fifth goal and eighth point of the season. Ben Thomson and Deven Sideroff picked up assists on the goal.

The Heat would tie the game exactly six minutes later as a point shot by Rob Hamilton snuck through a swarm of bodies in front of the Gulls net and past San Diego goaltender Jared Coreau. Hamilton now has five points in four games played, while Tyler Graovac picked up his 10th assist and 15th point of the season on the play.

San Diego answered shortly after as Tropp netted his fifth goal of the season from a centering pass from Steel. With the primary assist, Steel extended his point streak to four games. Joe Blandisi also collected an assist on the goal to give him four consecutive games with an assist.

The Gulls led 2-1 after the opening 20 minutes, but early in the second period Tropp picked up where he left off in the first. With the Gulls’ on their first power play, Troy Terry found Tropp alone on the backdoor and Tropp slammed home the rookie’s perfect pass to double the Gulls lead 1:14 into the second frame.

The goal marks Tropp’s second two-goal performance in his last three games played. With a franchise-leading 49 goals, Tropp is one tally away from becoming the first player to score 50 for San Diego.

With his assist, Terry extended his club record and AHL-leading point streak to 11 games. The 21-year-old winger has recorded at least one point in all 11 career AHL games (8-9=16) since his debut on Oct. 19, including all nine home games dating (7-7=14). Terry's point streak is the longest by an AHL rookie since Evgeny Svechnikov (Grand Rapids) recorded a 12-game point streak.

Adding another power-play marker, the Gulls have scored on the man advantage in 11 of 13 games this season.

San Diego defenseman Andy Welinski added an assist after being reassigned to San Diego shortly before the game. Welinski has six points in eight games played this season (3-3=6).

It took Stockton less than five minutes to erase San Diego’s two-goal lead. First Matthew Phillips wristed a shot off the rush past Coreau to pull the Heat within one at the 5:11 marker of the period. Just 1:22 later, Dalton Prout tied the game at three, marking his first goal and point of the season.

With Stockton trying to make a line change, Steel finished off a 3-on-1 rush, sliding the puck past Gillies to reclaim the lead at 12:35 of the second period. Tropp had the lone assist on the goal, tying his career-high of three points, a marker that he has reached 10 time in his career (last: Jan. 3, 2018 at Texas; 3-0=3).

Steel wasn’t done yet, only 30 seconds later the rookie center blasted a slapshot by Gillies to give the Gulls a 5-3 lead. Steel recorded his first professional multi-goal and multi-point game (2-1=3).

“They’re starting to find some chemistry together, added Dallas Eakins. “We’ve had them together for a number of games now and I think they are really starting to understand where the other is going to be. They’ve got a similar set of values in their games and they’ve been complimenting each other well.”

Luke Schenn earned his first AHL point (assist) on the goal. Chase De Leo also tallied an assist, his ninth point this season (4-5=9).  

The goal forced Gillies from the game as Heat head coach Cali MacLean elected to replace the veteran with backup Nick Schneider at 13:04 of the second period. Gillies allowed five goals on 14 shots.

Coreau stopped his second career penalty shot at 15:09 of the second period, denying Curtis Lazar's attempt. Coreau has stopped two penalty shots this season (also Oct. 26 vs. Stockton; no goal), and has faced four in his AHL career (2-for-2).

At the 1:33 mark of the 3rd period, Graovac appeared to cut down San Diego’s lead in half, but a goaltender interference call on Buddy Robinson reversed the goal.

A power-play goal by Glen Gawdin brought the Heat back within a goal 5:25 into the third period with Hamilton and Quine adding assists on the score.

Stockton tied the game for the third time when Kerby Rychel tipped in Matt Taormina’s point shot with 3:42 left in the third period.

San Diego would be granted a late power play, but in the final moments of regulation but Curtis Lazar added a shorthanded goal with 11 seconds remaining to give Stockton the win.

“Tonight when we got the lead, I thought we controlled the play a lot of the time and we were pressing,” said Eakins. “We weren’t able to finish or we could have had a three or four goal lead. To have them even it up like that and then to lose when we have got a power play, our power play has been so good this year, I was licking my chops on the bench going, we’re gonna win it right here. If we don’t do it right now, we’re definitely going to get it on the four-on-three. We made an honest mistake down low on the power play and then a guy just caught on edge. There’s not much you can do about that.”

Tonight's attendance was 8,004. The Gulls tonight welcomed their one millionth fan in the club's 112th game. All-time, the Gulls have welcomed 1,002,784 fans to Valley View Casino Center dating the inaugural 2015-16 AHL season. San Diego has averaged 8,953 fans per game in its history.

San Diego leads the AHL in attendance this season (8,968 average) and has led the Pacific Division in attendance each of the past three seasons. San Diego led the AHL in attendance in 2017-18 (9,305 average), the first team in 12 seasons to usurp the Hershey Bears in attendance.

The Gulls will conclude the home-and-home matchup against the Heat on Sunday, Nov. 25 at Stockton Arena (7 p.m., Mighty 1090).

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