Comeback Comes Up Short

Brouillard Sets Career High, Gulls Lose 5-4 To Canucks

Dec 14, 2022

By Brett Pickler/

The San Diego Gulls lost to the Abbotsford Canucks 5-4 in a thrilling game at Pechanga Arena San Diego.

San Diego entered the night trying to knock off a strong Abbotsford team who won seven out of their last 10 games. The game did not start off in the Gulls’ favor as the Canucks scored 1:07 into the game off a bobbled puck that popped over the head of goaltender Daniel Mannella. Canucks center Lane Pederson snuck behind the defense to convert on the loose puck.

The Gulls did not back down; right wing Rocco Grimaldi attacked the Canucks’ net after receiving a pass. He wristed the puck through an Abbotsford defender and beat the goalie on the blocker side, tying the game at 1-1 just 22 seconds after Abbotsford’s goal. However, the game did not stay tied as the Canucks added another three goals in the opening period. Their second goal resulted from a scramble in front of the net, leaving a loose puck and an open net for left wing Arshdeep Bains. Pederson would score two more times, completing his hat trick bid 11:39 into the game. Mannella was relieved by Garrett Metcalf following Abbotsford’s third goal.

Down 4-1 at this point, San Diego began to look for any way to get back into the game. Luckily, the Canucks took a penalty sending the Gulls to the power play. They were able to control the puck and set up their attack. Grimaldi got the puck at the top of the circles and skated towards the slot. He shot the puck and Gulls left wing David Cotton tipped the puck five-hole, making the game 4-2 on his first goal of the season.

In the second period, the Gulls continued their momentum. They generated opportunities in the Abbotsford end with a strong forecheck. The extended pressure in the zone gave San Diego confidence and left wing Evan Weinger eventually brought the game within one. Following a stretch pass from Drew Helleson, Weinger drove towards the net, pulled the puck into the slot and fired a shot that overpowered the Canucks’ netminder, trickling in past his glove.

"Yeah, well, I think the big thing was, you know, we came out, stuck with it. You know, we got some big saves," Gulls head coach Roy Sommer said on the teams shift in play. "You know, Metcalf came in there and killed off like a 5-on-3 right off the bat. Made some point blankers, kept us in the game. You know, even the goal they scored on the 5-on-3, we put it in ourselves. It wasn't like they got it. He kept us in."

The Gulls began the third period down by one. Battling against the clock, the Gulls needed to create pressure in the Canucks’ end. However, they took an early penalty, making their comeback attempt harder. They managed to kill the penalty and began a push to tie the game. At the 7:29 mark of the period, center Benoit-Olivier Groulx got a pass in front of the crease after a successful forecheck. He quickly shot the puck high blocker, but the goalie got a piece of it, sending it into the netting.

San Diego would take two more penalties in short succession, resulting in Abbotsford’s second 5-on-3 of the game. The Gulls managed to kill it off thanks to clutch saves from Metcalf. The game returned to 5-on-5 hockey after Gulls defenseman Nikolas Brouillard sacrificed his body to stop a shot from a wide-open net. The Gulls immediately sprung an attack, but a counter rush by the Canucks resulted in a goal making the game 5-3 with 4:20 remaining in the game.

The Gulls would get one back on a blast from center Justin Kirkland on the power play with the goaltender pulled. This goal gave Brouillard 0-4=4 points, setting a career-high in assists and points in a game. The game would end 5-4 with Metcalf being credited with the loss after recording 36 saves on 38 shots.

"We're going to lay it all out there and see what's going to happen. And I think that's what we did," Brouillard said. "We came back. Obviously, we didn't have the start we wanted. But I think throughout the whole game, we worked hard and we're on the right path. We haven't scored more goals either. So having scored those tonight, it helps a little bit. But we're going to have to work a lot harder and be smarter too on our decisions."

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