Lettieri's Two Goals Helps Gulls Ground EaglesFeb 13, 2021
It didn't take long for Vinni Lettieri to make an impact.
The veteran right wing, making his Gulls debut, scored two third-period goals to help San Diego defeat the Colorado Eagles, 3-2, tonight at FivePoint Arena in Irvine, CA.
The win gave the Gulls four straight to open the season, tying the inaugural 2014-15 team for the best start in team history.
Lettieri joined an exclusive club of his own, becoming the fourth Gull in team history to score twice in his debut.
"It’s a real good group," he said of San Diego. "I’ve been keeping up with the boxscores over the last few games. A lot of good talent down here and I played with a great line tonight. Stolie played unbelievable He’s been working his butt off every day and every practice, so it was showing off there on a couple of big saves. I obviously played with a good line and it was a good win."
Sam Carrick scored a power-play tally, collecting his 158th point in a Gulls sweater. The tally pushed him past Corey Tropp to lead the franchise in all-time scoring.
Head coach Kevin Dineen joined in on the milestone night, winning his 300th AHL game.
"Thanks for the scoop, I had no clue on that," he said following the win. "That’s a nice feather to have in your cap. You look back at the players that you have, the relationships that you’ve built and the texts that I still get from different players I’ve had over the years, including the [Canadian Women’s Olympic] team, the women I keep in touch with as much as anybody. It’s a great fraternity.
"I’ve worked with a lot of fabulous people and this year is no different. It’s a pleasure to be around these guys every day. We work hard, but boy we have fun. Nice to hear that I reached a bit of a milestone there."
Jamie Drysdale added two assists, and Anthony Stolarz stopped 31 shots in his season debut to continue San Diego's hot start.
"It was a long time coming," Stolarz said. "Just to get back on the ice, especially with a lot of the guys from last year and seeing guys from over the summer, getting to go out there and battle with them was a lot of fun. Tonight I was trying to get my feet underneath me and do anything I can to help the team get the two points."
Lettieri delivered the game-winning goal just prior to the midway point of the third period.
Hunter Drew's blast from the point rang off the crossbar, landing in the crease behind Colorado netminder Petyon Jones. Lettieri darted in to the blue paint, swiping home the puck before the Eagles goalie had a chance to fall on it and freeze play.
His tally came just three minutes after Colorado evened the score, with Ryan Wagner snapping a wrist shot over the glove of Stolarz for his first goal of the season.
Lettieri kicked off the third-period scoring blitz, netting a power-play goal for his first goal as a Gull.
Zegras and Drysdale played pitch-and-catch with the puck, waiting for the Lettieri to set himself up for a one timer. When the lane opened, Drysdale fed the puck to the Excelsior, MN native, who quickly fired a shot off that ricochetted off the back bar of the net and out. Officials immediately called a goal on the ice.
As San Diego did in its three previous wins, the team allowed its opponent to score first. Defenseman Greg Pateryn - a recent acquisition from the Minnesota Wild - gave the Eagles a 1-on with a 5-on-3 power-play goal in the first period.
Colorado's captain held the puck along the blue line, waiting for a screen for develop. His shot sailed by Stolarz and into the top corner for Colorado's first goal of the season.
Carrick tied the score, grabbing the equalizer on the power play in the second period.
Chase De Leo chipped the puck in over Colorado's blue line on the rush, sending Carrick into the opponent's end with speed. San Diego's captain deftly poked the stick around a defender, and moved in all alone on Jones. He cut from right to left in front, tucking a backhand into an empty net for his second goal of the season.
San Diego's power play came alive tonight, scoring on two of its five chances.
"I think we had some good distribution," Dineen said. "I think, when it’s not working, we try to make plays before we find our structure. You have to have full possession before you’re looking to make plays. I think tonight, we did that. Our first time through was a little rough, but we found our stride and once we get settled, we have the ability to make some good, crisp passes, some one touch passes. We wear that penalty kill down, find those open lanes and pucks at the net. It was a big win for our power play tonight."
The two teams will continue their series tomorrow at 4 p.m. PT from FivePoint Arena. The game will be broadcast locally on Fox 5 San Diego.