Gulls Beat Down Rival ReignDec 27, 2019
The Gulls came out of the holiday break firing on all cylinders, defeating the Ontario Reign 6-1 at Toyota Arena. San Diego has earned points in five of their last seven games (3-2-1-1) in addition to 14 of their last 20 overall (12-6-1-1).
Goaltender Anthony Stolarz stopped 38-of-39 shots to pick up his 10th win of the season, improving to 3-1-0 record with a 1.77 goals against average and .946 save percentage in four games vs. the Reign this season.
Alex Dostie registered his first career three-point games with a goal and two assists (1-2=3) while also earning a career-high +4 rating. Justin Kloos opening the scoring just eight seconds into the contest and added an assist to improve his point total to six points (2-4=6) in six games against Ontario this season.
“We knew we had to be ready after Christmas break and I think all the guys were ready to go,” said Dostie following the game. “We got a lucky bounce on the first shift and it just gave us momentum for the rest of the game.”
It took just eight seconds from the first puck drop of the game for the Gulls to get on the board as Kloos capitalized on a fortunate bounce for the quickest goal from the start of a game in club history.
The play began when Kloos won the opening draw to defenseman Jani Hakanpaa who dumped the puck into the Reign zone. Ontario netminder Cal Petersen left his crease to stop the puck behind the net, but the puck hit an odd spot along the boards and caromed into the slot. An Ontario defenseman attempted to clear the puck away, but the puck ended up on the stick of Kloos just before he put it in the back of the net. Dostie and Jani Hakanpaa recorded the assists on the play.
The previous record was held by Jaycob Megna, who scored 17 seconds into a game against Bakersfield on Feb. 17, 2018. In addition, the goal marked the fastest goal this AHL season and the quickest since Grand Rapids scored seven seconds into their matchup on Nov. 16, 2018 (also against Ontario).
“[Cal Petersen] plays the puck extremely well and we were trying to keep it away from him because he gets back there and gets it,” said Gulls head coach Kevin Dineen. “You get a lucky bounce. If that happens in our building, you might be blaming the ice crew, but when it happens in a visitor’s building, it’s a nice way to start a game. You get up 1-0 in the first ten seconds.”
The Gulls doubled their lead when Hakanpaa rifled a distant wrist shot past Petersen and into the net with 3:33 left in the opening frame. Josh Mahura took the puck end-to-end before throwing a shot on net, but the puck took several bounces and popped out to the point. Hakanpaa beat Ontario left wing Bokondji Imama to the puck as he was coming out of the penalty box, and the Gulls blueliner scored his first goal with San Diego. Hankanpaa’s eventual game-winning score also marked his first goal in the AHL since Dec. 9, 2014 at San Antonio (73 games).
Stolarz picked up an assist on the play, tying a single season record by a goalie. His second assist of the season tied Kevin Boyle and Matt Hackett for the all-time club record for assists among goaltenders. Stolarz first assist this season also came at Ontario on Nov. 15.
In addition to leading 2-0 Gulls more than doubled the Reign in shots through the first 20 minutes of play, outshooting Ontario 15-7.
Ontario’s best chance of the night came on a tic-tac-toe play late in the second frame. As the Reign entered the Gulls zone on an odd-man rush, a pass by Jaret Anderson-Dolan across the slot gave Mikey Eyssimont a golden opportunity to score. Stolarz kept Ontario scoreless with an incredible glove save, making one of the more impressive plays this season. After two periods of play, Stolarz had stopped all 24 Ontario shots.
Chase De Leo capitalized on a neutral zone turnover forced by Jack Kopacka and stick handled through multiple Reign players at the offensive blue line to create a two-on-one rush. De Leo slide the puck across to Kiefer Sherwood who one-timed a shot past Petersen 3:55 into the final frame. Sherwood, who has been sidelined with an injury since Nov. 16 extended his goal streak to four games (4-1=5) and point streak to five games (4-2=6).
Just 2:53 later, Josh Mahura extended San Diego’s lead to 4-0 with a goal from the slot. After an extended forecheck, Kloos took the puck into the zone and threw it backwards, between an Ontario defender’s skates to Mahura. The second-year defenseman, who had nothing but a sprawling netminder to beat with a backhand over Petersen into the net for his first goal of the season and his second point of the night (1-1=2).
Ontario finally answered with a goal of their own as Lance Bouma scored 26 seconds after Mahura’s tally. Carl Grundstrom stopped an attempted clear by Stolarz from behind the net and pushed it out to Bouma for the score.
San Diego defenseman Patrick Sieloff threw a big hit on Ontario’s Lance Bouma as he entered the Gulls zone and tempers reached a boiling point. Reign blueliner Chaz Reddekopp was called given a roughing minor on the play.
San Diego scored another two quick goals for good measure. The first, at the 11:57 mark of the third period, was a product of rookie forward Antoine Morand, who deflected a shot from the point by fellow first-year player Hunter Drew as Reddekopp sat in the penalty box. Ryan Johnston added his third assist of the season on the play.
Dostie scored for his third point of the evening (1-2=3) with 4:14 remaining in the frame. A scramble in the slot eventually ended up behind the net as Petersen was unable to secure the puck. Corey Tropp threw the puck back out to the slot and Dostie found the back of the net when he flipped it over a sprawling Petersen. Deven Sideroff also earned an assist on the score.
Ontario made several more attempts to get on the board, but Stolarz held strong in net denying 14 of the Reign’s 15 shots in the third period.
The two teams will conclude the home-and-home matchup tomorrow at Pechanga Arena San Diego (7 p.m.).