Gulls Drop Opening Game In CalgaryDec 9, 2022
By Brett Pickler/SanDiegoGulls.com
The San Diego Gulls fell, 3-0, to the Calgary Wranglers at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
San Diego entered tonight’s game looking to get back in the win column and break their six-game losing streak. The Gulls looked to their new faces, center David Cotton and left wing Pavol Regenda, to help defeat Calgary. Cotton was acquired in a trade with the Coachella Valley Firebirds, while Regenda rejoins the Gulls following reassignment from the Anaheim Ducks.
The first period did not start out how the Gulls hoped. The Wranglers scored 38 seconds into the game, jumping out to an early 1-0 lead on a backdoor pass finished by Cole Schwindt. Calgary used this early goal to gain momentum and establish pressure in the San Diego zone. This extended pressure made it hard for the Gulls to generate much offense, only registering six shots in the opening frame.
"Not the start we wanted," head coach Roy Sommer said. "I mean, we get scored on the first shift, but overall, I mean, if you look at it, we were better than the two games that we played at home. Better compete - I thought guys stuck to the system pretty good."
Calgary would add to their lead just past the halfway point of the period on a favorable bounce for the Wranglers. Goaltender Lukas Dostal managed to track the puck as it bounced into the crease from behind the net, but it deflected as he went to cover it and landed on center Mitch McLain’s stick for an open goal.
The Gulls did have a few chances in the opening period. Center Justin Kirkland walked in from the Calgary blue line and slipped the puck between a defender’s legs as he attacked the net. He cut into the slot and fired a puck that glanced off the goaltender Dustin Wolf’s blocker. Later in the period, center Benoit-Olivier Groulx found himself on a breakaway while shorthanded. He shot the puck low blocker, but Wolf absorbed the shot.
Entering the second period down 2-0, the Gulls needed to get on the scoreboard. Right wing Jacob Perrault nearly cut the lead in half on the opening shift. He sped down the left wing wall and snapped a shot past Wolf hitting the far post and going into the corner. Right wing Hunter Drew then had a chance when he walked along the goal line and tried to slot the puck high short side. At this point, the Gulls were controlling play in the Wranglers’ end.
However, a delay of game penalty would halt San Diego’s momentum. Calgary managed to regain control and draw a second penalty to make it a 5-on-3 power play. The Gulls killed the penalty but found it hard to reestablish themselves offensively, despite going on the man advantage. The period would end with Calgary extending their lead on a shot from the point with 32 seconds left in the period.
The third period began with San Diego down by three. They needed to score quick if they were to comeback. The Gulls got a chance to cut into the lead when they went on the power play at the 6:29 mark of the period.
On the man advantage, the Gulls looked to create chances through their passing ability. They moved the puck quick but could not get a clear path to the net. San Diego did get a chance when left wing Brayden Tracey snuck behind the Calgary defense during a neutral zone regroup. He went down on a breakaway deking to his forehand to open the five-hole. Wolf fought off the chance and kept the Gulls scoreless. San Diego would take a penalty shortly after their power play expired, stopping their momentum dead in its tracks.
"Yeah, I mean, we'll have a meeting tomorrow and go over some of the positives, some of the things we can clean up," Sommer said. "Details are killing us right now."
The game ended 3-0 with Dostal recording 28 saves on 31 shots. As a team, the Gulls were perfect on the penalty kill, stopping all five of the Wranglers’ chances.