Gulls Run Out Of Time

Gulls Battle Back, Fall Just Short In Calgary

Mar 26, 2023

By AJ Manderichio/

The San Diego Gulls fell to the Calgary Wranglers 3-2 tonight at Scotiabank Saddledome, extending their losing skid to a fifth game.

Matthew Phillips scored twice in the first period, finishing the game leading the American Hockey League with 32 goals. Clark Bishop added a shorthanded tally and Dustin Wolf made 28 saves as Calgary continues to sit atop the league standings.

Chase De Leo and Benoit-Olivier Groulx each posted 1-1=2 points for the Gulls, who remain winless against Calgary this season. Dylan Sikura collected an assist, and Olle Eriksson Ek stopped 34 shots in the loss.

"The first period, the first 14 minutes I thought we were really good," Gulls head coach Roy Sommer said. "You know, guys were humpin' and above pucks, and we were finishing our hits. Then they got that one goal and then the second one. You know, three goals we give up the last six minutes of the first and that was the ballgame. You know, we crawled back in. I thought we had a really good second. For the zone time, we owned that a little bit, had some pretty good looks. Their goalie was good again. It was unusual just seeing him give up two softies like he did tonight. I guess the first one wasn't, but the start of the third, the one that Chase got. I thought for the most part, the guys did a pretty good job. Tough building to win in, one of the top teams in the league and I guess it's a moral victory, but it wasn't a win."

Determined to find the back of the net, San Diego came out and immediately scored, grabbing the lead on Groulx’s goal before the game hit the one-minute mark.

The center started the play, winning an offensive zone faceoff back to the point. The puck made its way to Sikura, who laid a soft shot toward traffic in front. De Leo continued the play, firing a quick backhand through the legs of Wolf. The puck started to trickle wide before Groulx found it, slamming it into the open net for his 13th goal of the season.

Phillips answered with 7:20 remaining in the first, tying the game at one with his 31st goal of the season.

The period – and the game – turned on Bishop’s shorthanded tally nearly two minutes later. The Calgary forward collected the goal after Ben Jones made contact with Eriksson Ek, preventing the goaltender from re-establishing himself before the shot came through. Several Gulls protested the call, but officials upheld the goal to give the Wranglers the one-goal lead.

"He said we pushed him (Calgary's Ben Jones) into him (Gulls goaltender Olle Eriksson Ek), and, I don't know, we haven't been getting a lot of breaks from these refs lately," Sommer said.

Phillips found the back of the net once more, grabbing his 32nd of the season late in the opening frame.

"I just said, 'You know, too bad,'" Sommer said. "You know, you're not rewarded for 14 minutes, you're rewarded for 20 and we just had a couple breakdowns, and that's kind of the way it's been going."

After a scoreless second, De Leo struck early in the third to bring the Gulls within one.

Olli Juolevi held a bouncing puck in at the blue line, with Groulx curling into the low point to continue the play to De Leo. San Diego’s captain chased the puck down the wing, eventually finding it on the goal line. He swept it toward the net, where the puck hit Wolf’s midsection and crept past the Calgary goaltender for De Leo’s eighth tally of the season.

Groulx’s assist, his 20th of the season, established a new career high for the Rouen, France native. He passed his previous high of 19, set during the 2020-21 season.

San Diego failed to find the equalizer, dropping the second matchup of the weekend set in Calgary. The Gulls return home to face the Tucson Roadrunners on Wednesday, Mar. 29.

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