Elvenes Scores As Gulls Fall To Canucks

Lucas Elvenes Scores In Gulls Debut As San Diego Falls To Abbotsford

Jan 14, 2022

By AJ Manderichio/SanDiegoGulls.com

San Diego’s northern nemesis struck again.

The Gulls fell to the Abbotsford Canucks 5-1 tonight at Pechanga Arena San Diego, their second consecutive defeat at the hands of the American Hockey League’s newest team.

WATCH: Elvenes Nets First Gulls Goal | Gamecenter

Michael DiPietro made 23 saves  – including a dazzling sliding stop late in the second period – to collect his fourth win of the season.

John Stevens led Abbotsford with 1-2=3 points, recording his first multi-point game of the season. Phil Di Giuseppe, Tristen Nielsen, Justin Bailey and Danila Klimovich also scored for Abbotsford, who snapped a four-game losing streak. 

Lucas Elvenes scored in his Gulls debut, and Brent Gates Jr. pushed his point streak to a career-tying three games. Francis Marotte, making his Pechanga Arena debut, stopped 17 shots  in the loss.

"I just think we came in not as assertive as we did the last weekend," Gulls head coah Joel Bouchard said. "That being said, to be honest, we had to juggle a lot of things in the lineup the last few hours. As a coach, as demanding as I am, I have to be realistic. I’m not giving players excuses. When they’re not right they’re not right. I don’t think we had the best start. I would have liked a better start. That being said, there’s been a lot of moving parts over the last 24 hours and this is really our third game in a month.

"I liked the way we responded in the second. I liked the way we responded in the third. I think we had some good looks. We could have had a couple more goals, but we didn’t and it’s okay. I think we could learn from that, that our start needed to be better." 

Abbotsford took control early with Di Giuseppe scoring his sixth goal of the season just 3:03 into the opening period. 

The veteran center converted on a loose puck in front, slamming home the rebound from a Noah Juulsen shot past Marotte to break the ice.

Stevens extended the lead, scoring his fifth goal of the season at 7:12 of the first. The center finished an odd-man rush, snapping a one-timed shot past the sliding Marotte to give Abbotsford a two-goal cushion.

"They were moving quick," Gates Jr. said. "They came out with good jump. I think we took a little too long to get started. You know, it kinda started from the first shift. Where we, for whatever reason, weren’t completely dialed in right away and they were. They took advantage of that in the first. I thought we played a better game as the game went on, but for sure in the first they were just moving their feet more than us and winning more battles than us."

Nielsen extended the advantage with his third goal of the season with under four minutes left in the middle frame.

Devante Stephens sent Abbotsford in on an odd-man rush from his own zone, with Nielsen leading the charge. The center held the puck at the faceoff dot before picking his spot, snapping a shot to the far corner for the goal.

Greg Printz nearly broke the ice for the Gulls, forcing DiPietro to make a highlight-reel save with just 23 seconds left in the period.

With San Diego shorthanded, Bryce Kindopp grabbed the puck at the blue line and sped into the Abbotsford zone. He turned at the side boards, feeding a driving Alex Limoges. He found Printz with a cross-ice feed, and the forward wasted no time one-timing a low shot toward the net. A sliding DiPietro trapped the puck underneath him just before it crossed the goal line, with Printz raising his arms in disbelief (and checking around the net) following the whistle.

"He played a good game, you gotta tip your cap," Gates Jr. said. "I think there’s things that we can definitely do better. Us forwards we can get more traffic at the net and take his eyes away. That’s something we talked about before the game. And just kinda having that gritty mentality to get to the net and kind of make him uncomfortable. I think we let him see too many shots and didn’t make it necessarily hard enough on him."

The Gulls would continue to push, with Elvenes ending DiPietro’s shutout bid at 9:46 of the final frame.

Gates Jr. started the play, poking the puck away from a streaking Bailey at center ice. Elvenes grabbed the puck and turned it the other way, driving into the Abbotsford zone with speed. He collected the puck into his body and fired a wrist shot past the glove of Michael DiPietro for his third goal of the season.

"He did have some good numbers in the American league in the past years," Bouchard said of Elvenes. "And sometimes the guy needs a different voice, a different look. It’s all the same. It’s professional. It’s hard, the American league is hard. So for him to score a goal, obviously, would make him feel good. Guys like to score, but there’s more to it. For me you have to play an overall game. Our goal is to develop players to be NHL players and make sure that everybody works into that sense here. So we’re going to take the time and let him settle in and work with him." 

Bailey would atone for his turnover, scoring an empty-net goal with 3:38 remaining in regulation. Stevens earned the assist, collecting his fifth point (3-2=5) in his last five games. 

Abbotsford would add on, with Kilmovich snapping a shot to the short side for his third goal of the season with 1:47 left.

The same two teams will meet again in the rubber match of this two-game weekend series. The Gulls will host Marvel Super Hero Night, with the first 8,000 fans in attendance receiving a Gulliver Super Hero poster. You can purchase your tickets here.

"That’s kind of the beauty of it, we get them again tomorrow," Gates Jr. said. "It’s a new night, starting fresh. For sure I think an emphasis is going to be to come out with more jump and more focus and take it to them in those first five-ten minutes of the game."

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