Del Zotto Extends Career-Best Point Streak; Gulls Fall To BakersfieldJan 18, 2023
By AJ Manderichio/SanDiegoGulls.com
The San Diego Gulls fell to the Bakersfield Condors 5-1 tonight at Mechanics Bank Arena, dropping the second of a four-game California road trip and suffering a third consecutive loss.
"Well disappointing, to say the least," Gulls head coach Roy Sommer said about the game. "Here's a team that has one more win than us and we get a win tonight and we catch them, in that department. It's one of the teams we're chasing to try and get a playoff spot. I thought we'd have a better effort than we did. Same thing - just not ready to play in the first, turnovers that led to odd-man rushes.
"If you look at the importance of each game that's coming up - and this one is on the calendar like, hey, we're going there, they're not playing that great. Here's an opportunity for us, you know, four-point game and we blew it."
San Diego (11-27-0-0) received the start it wanted, coming out of the gates playing with pace and offensive zone pressure. Despite the strong effort, Bakersfield (13-19-2-1) struck first on a deft deflection with 8:39 remaining in the first period. Carter Savoie delivered the game’s first tally, tipping a point shot from Michael Kesselring through the legs of a screened Lukas Dostal for his sixth goal of the season.
The score ignited the Condors, who doubled their lead on a James Hamblin tally with under five minutes remaining in the opening frame. The line of Seth Griffith, Noah Philp and Hamblin attacked off the rush, with Philp finding his linemate streaking down the slot. His pass beat a diving Gull and hit Hamblin, who cut across the crease and slid a backhand shot past Dostal for his fifth goal of the season.
Bakersfield would add to their lead, ballooning their lead to four with two goals early in the middle frame.
Savoie scored his second goal of the game, finishing in front on the power play just 1:28 into the middle frame. The chance came off a scramble behind the net, with right wing Xavier Bourgault finding an open Savoie in front of Dostal. The Gulls goaltender couldn’t slide across the crease quick enough, and Savoie banged home the puck for his seventh goal of the season.
The goal stung a stout San Diego penalty kill, which entered the game stopping 22-for-25 of their opponent’s chances on the power play over their last six games, an 88.0% kill rate over the span. Including tonight’s goal against, the Gulls still maintain an elite penalty kill unit, finishing third among Pacific Division clubs (and seventh in the Western Conference) at 81.8%.
Dostal denied Savoie’s bid for a hat trick minutes later, turning aside his one-timed bid. Bakersfield earned the odd man rush off a center ice faceoff, with Savoie opening up for the shot in the high slot. Dostal read the play, sliding over to blocker aside the left wing’s dangerous chance.
Bakersfield would benefit from a hometown bounce for its fourth goal, with Brad Malone collecting his second goal of the season at 5:11 of the period. A Max Gideon shot bounced off the end boards and out to the side of the net, where Malone snuck the puck past an unsuspecting Dostal for the goal.
Despite the score, San Diego came out determined to finish the game strong. Pavol Regenda helped the cause, ruining Pickard’s shutout bid with 8:29 remaining in regulation. Michael Del Zotto intercepted a Bakersfield clearing attempt, holding possession at the blue line. He slid a soft pass across to Regenda, who fired a one-timed shot from the point through traffic and past the Bakersfield netminder for his eighth goal of the season.
Del Zotto continued his strong run with San Diego. The assist stretched the veteran defenseman’s career-best point streak to a seventh game. He’s totaled 2-5=7 points over the stretch. He continues to average nearly a point-per-game with the Gulls, collecting 3-6=9 points in his 11 games with the club. The total nearly matches his output in 25 games with the Charlotte Checkers this season, where Del Zotto recorded 2-8=10 points.
"We changed things up," Sommer explained when asked about the team finding its offense in the final frame. "We started pinching the d(efense) down the walls with a high forward in the middle to try and keep some more offense, try and keep some more pucks alive, and it worked for us. Maybe we go with that on Friday."
Savoie would complete the hat trick with under five minutes left in regulation, firing a shot into an empty net. It marks a new career high for goals in a game for the St. Albert, Alberta native and snapped a four-game losing streak for the Condors.
The Gulls continue their road trip on Friday, when they face the San Jose Barracuda at Tech CU Arena at 7 p.m. PT.