Marotte, Gulls Earn First Career Win Over Abbotsford CanucksJan 15, 2022
By AJ Manderichio/SanDiegoGulls.com
Talk about a Hulk smash.
The San Diego Gulls leaned on a balanced offensive attack and stellar goaltending to take down the Abbotsford Canucks 4-3 tonight at Pechanga Arena San Diego, earning their first win over the American Hockey League’s newest team.
Celebrating Marvel Super Hero Night, Kodie Curran strapped on his cape and took the lead, recording his first career three-assist game. Brayden Tracey posted a multi-point performance (0-2=2) and four different Gulls scored as San Diego picked up a point in three of its last four games (2-0-1-0).
Earning a second consecutive start, Gulls goaltender Francis Marotte recorded his first career AHL win, stopping 29 shots.
"It feels pretty good," Marotte said following the milestone moment. "I mean I’m used to it. I did that quite a bit in college. So it was nice to get back-to-back starts and get the ball rolling last night and keep it going tonight."
Justin Bailey (1-2=3) and Nic Petan (0-2=2) paced the Abbotsford attack. Goaltender Arturs Silovs stopped 21 of 25 shots, suffering a fifth consecutive loss.
The Gulls identified a better start following their 5-1 loss to the Canucks last night, a game which saw their opponent take control with two first-period tallies. San Diego stuck to its script in the opening 20, limiting high-quality chances while controlling the tempo with a fast and physical game plan.
The hits led to fireworks near the end of the period. Mike McKee sent an unsuspecting Tristen Nielsen flying into the sideboards with a thunderous body check as the forward looked to carry the puck out of his own end. Chase Wouters took exception, finding Sean Josling and wildly swinging at center ice. The Gulls forward deftly dodged an overhand swing before wrestling Wouters to the ice, imploring the Gulls crowd to get on its feet after the bout.
"We talked about it last night a little bit," Gulls head coach Joel Bouchard said. "I know last night was a loss, but there was a lot of things I liked in the game. The way we progressed in the game last night. Didn’t click in maybe offensively. And when I watched the game again today I felt we were right there. I just asked for a little more in a few areas and the guys delivered. They delivered from the first minute. It was fun to coach tonight. The guys were sticking together, a lot of emotion. It was good. I’m very happy with the performance. I think the guys took a step tonight."
Danny O'Regan would open the scoring, breaking the ice with a power-play goal at 6:42 of the middle frame.
With Devante Stephens in the box for tripping, Curran corralled a loose puck in the offensive zone. He slid it to Carrick, who continued the puck to O'Regan. The center drove down into the faceoff circle, sneaking a wrist shot through a screen in front and past Silovs for his fifth goal of the season.
San Diego scored the first goal in 12 of the last 19 games and is 8-3-0-0 when opening the scoring this season.
Hunter Drew extended the lead to two with 2:28 left in the period.
Abbotsford fumbled the puck behind their own net, and Tracey alertly scooted down the board and sent a pass to Drew at the point. He gathered it in and fired a quick wrist shot past Silovs for his third goal in his last four games.
The goal, his sixth of the season, ties a career-high for goals for the Kingston, Ontario native. Drew also reached the mark during the 2020-21 season.
Abbotsford broke through on the power play late in period, scoring on a Jack Rathbone slap shot with 38 seconds left. Seconds after missing on a deflection in front, Petan cycled the puck to a waiting Rathbone, who fired his shot from just above the hash marks past Marotte for his second goal of the game.
Like a blockbuster superhero movie, the third period would feature an all-out fight to the finish.
Alex Limoges restored San Diego's two-goal cushion with a shorthanded tally at 3:38 of the final frame.
With Morgan Adams-Moisan receiving a five-minute major and game misconduct for a hit to the head, the Gulls went to work shorthanded. A missed pass from Petan sent Curran and Limoges in on a 2-on-1 chance from the neutral zone. Solvis handled Curran's low shot but left a rebound at the side of the net for Limoges, who lifted it over the Abbotsford goalie for his fifth goal of the season and first career shorthanded tally.
Trevor Carrick would extend the lead to three with 8:12 left in regulation.
Tracey fed the puck to Curran, who held it in the faceoff circle. He laid it across the ice to Carrick, who one-timed an attempt on net. The puck bounced off Silovs and into the back of the net for Carrick's second goal of the season.
Tracey ended the night seventh among all American Hockey League rookies in scoring (9-14=23 points).
Abbotsford refused to go quietly, fighting back to stay within striking distance. Bailey brought them within two, scoring a power-play goal on a deflection with 4:41 left in the final frame.
Phil Di Guissepe would add a final goal for the Canucks, squeaking the puck past Marotte with .2 seconds left in the game.
"You know they have a good team, they have good top end players, and I think we were just kinda on our heels," Bouchard said. "I feel yesterday, after the first period, it was like ‘okay, now let’s play with them.’ And we kinda did. And although we didn’t win, I think we built some confidence yesterday with the guys, were like ‘you know what, we’ve been better than this.’ And showing them a couple clips today I think they realize that like ‘right, we’re right there.’ It’s not like we can’t play them.
"So what I like is the first game against Abbotsford I wasn’t happy at all the way we performed and we handled it. Yesterday I felt we were getting a little better. And again, today, it’s a young group in a lot of positions. It was fun to see the investment from the guys and taking care of each other on the ice. It’s a heavy team that plays really hard and the guys stuck together tonight."
The Gulls now head out on the road, starting a four-game road trip on Tuesday against the division-leading Stockton Heat.