Gulls Can’t Corral Wranglers, Drop Opening SeriesDec 3, 2022
By Brett Pickler/SanDiegoGulls.com
The San Diego Gulls fell 6-0 to the Calgary Wranglers at Pechanga Arena San Diego.
The Wranglers’ momentum from last night carried over into the opening period. The Gulls took a penalty just over a minute into the game, giving Calgary the chance to set up their offense. San Diego struggled to recover from this and was outshot 19-5 in the first.
Goaltender Lukas Dostal managed to control the attack of Calgary, stopping 18 shots. His first big save of the period came while the Gulls were on the power play. The Wranglers blocked a shot and then went down on a 2-on-0. Dostal stayed calm in net, handling the situation with ease. Later, there was a brief scare after he came out of his crease to play the puck but mishandled it, creating a wide-open net for the Wranglers. Center Danny O’Regan shut down the tap-in with an outstanding effort on the backcheck.
"I turn the puck over the blue line and somebody else got back before I did, luckily," O'Regan said after the game. "Dos (Gulls goaltender Lukas Dostal) tried to make a play on the puck, and they made a good play. I think I got lucky, the puck just bounced over the kid’s stick. I don’t know if I did too much to help but it's one of those, it's huge it stayed out and gave us a chance to stay in the game."
This effort transitioned directly into a chance at the opposing end for the Gulls. Right wing Evan Weinger stole the puck in the high slot and delivered a dime to O’Regan driving the net. San Diego couldn’t convert on the chance keeping the game scoreless.
At the end of the period, Calgary found the back of the net on a favorable bounce. The Wranglers entered the zone with speed on an odd man rush and fired the puck on net. The shot deflected off a Calgary player in front, landing directly on defenseman Colton Poolman’s stick. He fired it into the net, giving Calgary a 1-0 lead.
"Well, I think the biggest thing was we just couldn't get the puck out of our end," head coach Roy Sommer said. "I thought they did a great job at hemming us in, they took the boards away. You know, they kind of played with our high man and just basically smothered us in our own end and when we finally got out of our own end, we just couldn't muster enough offense to get anything at their net."
The Gulls started the second period on the front foot. They went on the power play 1:32 into the middle frame and began to create some offense. Right wing Jacob Perreault snuck behind the Calgary defense during a regroup and found himself alone with goaltender Dustin Wolf. Perreault deked the goalie but lost his footing right before he shot causing him to crash into the net. After review, the refs determined that the puck did not cross the goal line prior to the net coming off, keeping the score at 1-0.
The Wranglers killed the penalty and found themselves back on the attack. They intercepted a pass in the Gulls’ defensive end, which created an instant opportunity. Dostal made a desperation save, kicking out his right leg on the initial offering, but Calgary regained the puck and connected on a backdoor goal. They would score again at the 14:35 mark of the period on the power play. Defenseman Nick DiSimone found himself alone in the slot and hammered a slap shot through a screen to give his team a three-goal lead. Right wing Matthew Phillips made it 4-0 with a backhand chip shot on a breakaway, making him the first player in the American Hockey League to reach 30 points (15-15=30) in the 2022-23 season.
The third period began with both teams in the penalty box. At one point, San Diego had a two-man advantage, but were unable to convert on their chances. As the period progressed, it was hard for the Gulls to generate offense. The Wranglers maintained consistent pressure in the offensive zone and iced the game at 5-0 with a shot from the blue line that found it way through the screen in front. Calgary would add one more on the power play for a final score of 6-0.
Looking ahead to next weekend's rematch against the Wranglers, O'Regan said, "I think we've been playing a lot of hockey and hasn’t been going well for us, so maybe this will be a good reset for us. Get a few good practices in and just try to reset mentally and physically and hopefully get a nice little streak going in the right way."