Gulls Stumble Against Condors

Third Period Stings Gulls In Loss To Bakersfield

Jan 27, 2023

By AJ Manderichio/

A multi-goal comeback by the Bakersfield Condors grounded the San Diego Gulls as they dropped a 4-3 decision to their Pacific Division rivals tonight at Pechanga Arena San Diego.

David Cotton, Benoit-Olivier Groulx and Bryce Kindopp scored for San Diego, who fell nine points back of their division foes. Lukas Dostal suffered the loss, stopping 17-of-21 shots.

"I think it's just in the small details of our game," Cotton said. "I think the goals that we did give up came off of self-inflicted turnovers. I mean, kept it simple, kept getting behind the d(efense) and establishing a forecheck. That's when we found a lot more success. So just little habits and little things that we can clean up but, overall, I thought it was good night for the boys. Competing, working hard. We just got to clean up the little things."

A strong start – and a hometown bounce – put San Diego on the board at 3:17 of the first period.

Drew Helleson and Michael Del Zotto skated the puck to the top of San Diego’s zone, with the latter defenseman sending a clearing attempt off a Bakersfield stick and down to the other end of the ice. The puck caromed off the end boards and back to the front of the net, forcing Bakersfield goaltender Olivier Rodrigue to scramble to the open crease. Cotton beat him to the spot, swiping the loose puck past the down-and-out netminder for his fourth goal of the season.

"Honestly, I just saw it pop out to the middle and just try to get a stick on it," he explained. "So got pretty lucky. So I'll take that one." 

The tally marks the Parker, TX native’s third point in the last two games. It also marks the first time he’s recorded points in consecutive games in a Gulls sweater.

Groulx added to the total, doubling San Diego’s lead with just 17 seconds remaining in the period.

Rocco Grimaldi forced a quick decision by Bakersfield defenseman Yanni Kaldis, pressuring him aggressively on the forecheck. Kaldis’ clearing attempt went off the glass and found Pavol Regenda, who put the puck on his stick and darted toward the net. He sent a cross-ice pass to Groulx, who one-timed his shot past a sliding Rodrigue for his 11th goal of the season.

The Condors climbed within one early in the middle frame, forcing a turnover and converting on a one-timed shot from Raphael Lavoie at 2:23 of the period.

Kindopp restored San Diego’s two-goal lead, collecting his third of the season with 7:41 left in the period.

Axel Andersson controlled the puck at the point, sending a low wrist shot through Bakersfield defenseman Jason Demers. Rodrigue made the initial save, but left a rebound for Kindopp, who swept the puck through the legs of the Condors netminder.

"I think just going to the net," Kindopp said when asked to describe his goal. "I think that's something I need to do a bit more and when you go to net, usually good thing to happen and it was a good all-around play. I was lucky to just be the guy standing there and it slid in so yeah, always feels good, but need to get the win."

At the conclusion of the game, the Gulls’ defense accounted for 34.7% of the team’s offense (25-of-72 points) over the team’s last 11 games.

Brent Gates Jr., who returned to the lineup following a 23-game absence, picked up the secondary assist, his third helper in his last five games played.

The Condors would respond, scoring three straight to come-from-behind and steal the win.

It started with a bounce for Bakersfield, as Kaldis’ shot toward the net bounced off traffic and past Dostal with under four minutes left in the period, trimming San Diego’s lead to one.

The Condors would even the score 20 seconds into the final frame. Greg McKegg earned the game-tying marker, deflecting a point shot past Dostal.

Minutes later, Tyler Benson put the Gulls in a one-goal hole at 9:49 of the period, crashing the net and deflecting a puck past Dostal for his first goal of the season.

"They got that one late in the second, made it 3-2 on some turnovers," Gulls head coach Roy Sommer said. "If you’re going to look at trying to pinpoint something, us managing the puck wasn’t good at times. I mean, we battled. That doesn’t help when they score in the first shift of the third. It was just kind of a sifter that went in and was tipped. And then the 5-on-3 (power play), we didn’t get anything on. It was an opportunity for us to go ahead and we didn’t take advantage of it." 

The Gulls look to get back in the win column tomorrow when they face the rival Ontario Reign on the team’s first Disco Night at 7 p.m. PT.

"They’re a team that starts out real fast," Sommer said. "They didn’t play tonight, so they’re coming in here rested. We should have our feet underneath us – we played two in three. They play real fast; you got to shut them down. They got some players (where) you gotta know when they’re on the ice. If you don’t, they’ll hurt you. But we’ve played them before, actually have had some pretty good games in here. Just kind of go from there."

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