Gulls Earn Point, Split Weekend Series With OntarioDec 28, 2019
The Gulls completed their 2019 calendar year home schedule tonight, earning a point in 3-2 shootout to the Ontario Reign at Pechanga Arena San Diego. Carl Grundstrom sealed the win for Ontario with the overtime winner 2:53 into the extra session as San Diego earned three of four points in the weekend home-and-home with the Reign.
Despite the setback, San Diego has earned points in three straight games (2-0-1-0), seven of the last 10 contests (5-3-1-1) and 11 of the last 16 overall (8-5-2-1). The Gulls have also picked up points in 10 of the last 13 overall on home ice (7-3-2-1).
In his 200th game in a Gulls sweater, Corey Tropp earned his 91st career assist, surpassing Kalle Kossila atop the franchise’s all-time assist list. Tropp joined Jaycob Megna (216) as the only two players to appear in 200 games for San Diego.
“I’m very fortunate to play with very good players, it’s been an awesome ride here,” said Tropp. “Every time I put that jersey on, it’s a great feeling. I pride myself in coming here every day and competing hard for the San Diego Gulls. I’ve had a tremendous experience playing here and it’s an honor to play here.”
After a faceoff in the Gulls zone, a crosscheck by Ontario’s Chaz Reddekopp on Corey Tropp caused Hunter Drew to drop the gloves, 7:43 into the game. Shortly after the fight, Reign defenseman Sean Durzi was whistled for high-sticking and the Gulls went on the power play.
San Diego got on the scoreboard first when Alex Dostie scored on the power play 8:22 into the opening frame. Tropp found Dostie in the slot on a quick tic-tac-toe passing play and Dostie wristed it to the back of the net for his second goal and third point in as many nights. Daniel Sprong also collected an assist after being assigned by the Anaheim Ducks to the Gulls earlier in the day.
Just past the midpoint of the first period, the Reign connected on several cross-ice passes in the Gulls zone. With Mikey Anderson’s shot forcing Boyle to flash his glove, making one of the more impressive saves of the night.
Ontario eventually tied the score 1-1 with 6:48 remaining in the first period with a power-play goal of their own. Eyssimont evened the score as he buried a rebound from an Austin Strand shot following a strong sprawling save from Boyle, but the rebound with no one but Eyssimont in front gave the Reign their first of the night.
The score remained tied at the end of the first period as San Diego and Ontario each put up 13 shots after 20 minutes of play.
“We got another solid night for us in net,” said head coach Kevin Dineen. “I thought Boyle was really strong for us, as needed. We had little issues in the second period and he stood us up and made the saves that he needed to make.”
To start the second period, Strand was assessed a tripping minor giving the Gulls another power-play opportunity. Following a Gulls dump in, Villalta collected the puck behind the net and tried to clear the puck as Justin Kloos rushed towards him. The center extended his stick and made contact with the attempted clear, redirecting the puck into the net for his second goal in as many games (2-1=3).
Tensions continued to boil over as Patrick Sieloff and Brett Sutter started the second fight of the night. After a few punches were thrown, both players ended up on the ground before the referees separated them. After the play was broken up, each player received a five-minute fighting major.
The Reign got back on the board to tie the score at 2-2 with 1:47 remaining in the second period. Simon Benoit attempted to clear the puck from the Gulls zone, but the puck was nudged to Blaine Byron’s stick, hitting Eyssimont’s stick in the process. Byron took the puck to the net, deked around Boyle’s poke check attempt and finished the play with a score to mark his first of the season.
Ontario applied pressure to outshoot San Diego 25-20 through 40 minutes as the score remained tied 2-2 going into the final period.
San Diego fought off two-of-two penalties in the third period and both goalies kept pucks out of the net to push the game into a three-on-three overtime period.
Ontario’s Anderson-Dolan had a scoring opportunity 2:35 into overtime when he skated the puck into San Diego’s zone and around Kloos before attempting a shot on net. Boyle stood strong, stopping the shot with his pad before covering the puck to stop the play.
The Reign put the game away 2:53 into the extra session when Carl Grunstrom put the puck past Boyle to take the two points. Paul LaDue stickhandled the puck at the circle to the right of Boyle before dropping it off to Gabriel Vilardi. After almost losing the puck at the front of the net, Vilardi passed it to Grundstrom who wristed it to the back of the net to conclude the game.
“Obviously, we want four, but I thought we competed hard tonight,” added Tropp regarding picking up three out of four possible standings points this weekend. “They’re a really good team and whenever we play them, we know it’s going to be a tight game. It’s been like that for almost five years. Every night we play them, it’s going to be a battle. They compete hard. They have great players and it’s what you expect from them every night.”
The Gulls will conclude their 2019 calendar year Tuesday, Dec. 31 at the Tucson Roadrunners at Tucson Arena (5:05 p.m. PT).