Gulls End Decade With 7-4 Loss
Chase De Leo (two goals), Justin Kloos (1-1=2) record multi-point efforts in the lossDec 31, 2019
The Gulls closed the 2019 calendar year, falling 7-4 to the Roadrunners at Tucson Convention Center Arena. San Diego scored its 10th shorthanded goal of the season, tying Providence for the AHL lead.
Justin Kloos recorded the shorthanded goal and added an assist to mark his second multi-point effort the last three games and extended his goal and point streaks to three games (3-2=5).
Chase De Leo scored two goals for his first multi-goal effort of the season and the ninth of his AHL career. Goaltender Anthony Stolarz made 39 saves on a season-high 45 shots.
Forward Blake Pietila struck first to get the Gulls on the board 7:13 into the game, the fifth straight game San Diego has scored first. Pietila wasted no time firing a quick drop pass by Kloos in the slot, beating Tucson netminder Prosvetov low to the blocker side to give San Diego an early lead. Chris Wideman also picked up an assist on the play, tying for the team lead in scoring.
The Roadrunners tied the game 69 seconds later as Michael Bunting fired a quick slap shot at Stolarz who was unable to get in front of the puck in time.
Pietila was sent to the penalty box on a hooking minor late in the period and the Gulls penalty kill unit made its second appearance of the evening. However, it was San Diego that was able to get its 10th shorthanded goal of the season with 1:56 remaining in the opening frame to reclaim the lead. The goal was made possible when Kloos stripped the puck from Roadrunner defenseman Jordan Gross, took the puck all the way down the ice and his shot blocker side on Prosvetov beat the first-year goalie for a 2-1 Gulls lead.
For Kloos the goal marked his sixth overall and third shorthanded of the season to co-lead San Diego and rank tied for second among AHL leaders in shorthanded goals. He matched Alex Broadhurst for the team lead and tied the single-season franchise mark of three set by Sam Carrick (2018-19), Chris Wagner (2016-17) and Jordan Samuels-Thomas (2016-17).
The Gulls have scored their 10 shorthanded goals over the last 22 contests, with the penalty kill nearly matching the opposition power play 10-14 in that span (68-of-82 success rate on the penalty kill). Overall, San Diego’s penalty kill ranks second in the AHL with a goal differential of -9 (19 power-play goals against, 10 shorthanded goals), behind only Charlotte (-8).
Tucson tied the contest back up 1:19 into the second stanza after center Blake Speers found the back of the net for his first goal with the Roadrunners.
In a back-and-forth first half of the middle frame, San Diego took their third lead of the night when De Leo scored his sixth of the season at the 5:40 mark of the second period.
The lead didn’t last long as Tucson scored a pair of goals to tie the game at three apiece and then take its first lead of the contest in the middle portion of the period. Kyle Capobianco’s slap shot found the back of the net, tying the game 8:50 of the period The second goal was the product of an unfortunate rebound on the power play that Brayden Burke made the most of, scoring on an open net at 13:48.
Following a Gulls turnover in the offensive zone, the Roadrunners scored their third unanswered goal at the 8:23 mark of the third period to extend their lead to 5-3. Tucson brought the puck into the Gulls zone on an odd-man rush and capitalized on a tic-tac-toe passing play with Kelly Klima recorded the goal with a tap-in on the far post.
It took just 75 for the Gulls to answer and bring the score to within one. Defenseman Ryan Johnston fought off the Tucson forecheck, found De Leo in stride, and the diminutive winger’s slap shot beat Prosvetov.
Tucson scored its sixth goal of the game at the 11:07 mark of the final period. Anthony Stolarz made several saves in an effort to keep it a one-goal game, but San Diego couldn’t find the puck and Lane Pederson collected the rebound to make it 6-4. The Gulls pulled Anthony Stolarz in a late effort to tie the game, but Burke scored an unassisted, empty-net goal to close the game.
San Diego will open its 2020 calendar year with a back-to-back matchup vs. the Bakersfield Condors on Friday, Jan. 3 (7 p.m.) and Saturday, Jan. 4 (7 p.m.) at Pechanga Arena San Diego.