Gulls Can’t Find Their Way Past Wranglers In 5-2 LossDec 11, 2022
By Brett Pickler/SanDiegGulls.com
The San Diego Gulls lost 5-2 to the Calgary Wranglers at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
The Gulls came into today’s game looking to snap their seven-game losing streak with a statement win over one of the top teams in the Pacific Division. San Diego started off strong, limiting the Wranglers’ chances in the opening minutes. The line of Jacob Perreault, Benoit-Olivier Groulx and Brayden Tracey continued to generate chances for their team.
Their first chance came on a one-on-one zone entry. Tracey beat the Wranglers defenseman wide and tried to get a better shooting angle. Unfortunately, he did not get enough of the puck and the shot went wide. Later in the period, Groulx snuck into the slot and fired a shot on net.
Despite the early pressure from the Gulls, the Wranglers would be the ones to strike first. They took to the power play and started attacking the Gulls’ penalty killers. After winning a battle, Calgary got the puck to defenseman Nick Simone. He walked into the high slot, looking like he was going to shoot, but slid a pass to the far post where right wing Walker Duehr tapped it in. The Wranglers added a second goal at the 11:21 mark of the period when left wing Emilio Pettersen won a battle near the Gulls’ blue line, picked up the puck and dropped it for defenseman Dennis Gilbert who hammered it into the net from the high slot.
The second period began with a Wranglers penalty at the 2:01 mark. This gave the Gulls an opportunity to cut into the lead. The Gulls managed to control the puck throughout the power play, but an offensive zone turnover with the penalty expiring shifted the momentum. Calgary attacked with the man coming out of the box and converted on a shot from center Brent Sutter. However, San Diego did not back down following this goal. Around four minutes later, center Bryce Kindopp scored his first goal of the season, taking advantage of a mishandled puck behind the net.
"It feels really good," Kindopp said about scoring. "It's kind of it's been it's been a while now so obviously, it feels good, but just want to win games so doesn't really matter if we're not winning. Obviously, I'll take it for sure."
As the period went on, both teams continued to trade goals. The Wranglers extended their lead to 4-1 after a loose puck created a pile-up in front of the Gulls’ crease. Center Connor Zary found himself in the blue paint and guided the puck into the net. San Diego cut the lead in half just under four minutes later. The Gulls utilized their aggressive forecheck and created a puck battle along the left wing boards. The Wranglers won the battle and looked to move the puck across the ice, but Groulx intercepted the puck and fired a shot from the slot making it 4-2.
Down by two heading into the third period, San Diego needed to get on the board quickly to keep their comeback bid alive. The teams traded power play opportunities early in the period, which stifled any momentum San Diego tried to build.
"Well, actually, we came out and played two solid periods - chances were even, we went down," head coach Roy Sommer said. "We scored a couple 5-on-5 goals tonight, which is something that’s been eluding us for the last couple of games. We’ve just got to stick with it. I mean, it was 4-2 - I thought we'd come out and have a good push in the third and it’s just kind of fragile right now."
Calgary extended their lead to three goals after a massive hit in the neutral zone sprung Pettersen on a breakaway. All alone, he deked to his forehand and at the last second, performed a one-handed tuck to his backhand to slide the puck into the net. This goal iced the game for the Wranglers. They extended their win streak to six while the Gulls remain winless in their last eight games.