Gulls Extend Point Streak to Seven Games
Jack Kopacka records multi-point night as Gulls move within a point of idle OntarioFeb 9, 2020
The Gulls scored four straight goals to push their season-long point streak to seven games (5-0-2-0) and win streak to three games with a 4-2 win over the Bakersfield Condors tonight at Pechanga Arena San Diego.
“It was a really complete win,” said Gulls head coach Kevin Dineen. “We had a couple of call-ups on defense yesterday, so some guys did an admirable job filling in to those roles. A lot of different offense from different areas. We would have liked to have been a little tighter toward the end of the game, but they’re a good team and they pushed back hard.”
The Gulls also have points in 12 of their last 13 games (10-1-2-0) and 16 of the last 20 overall (12-4-3-1). In the last 12 contests, the Gulls have scored four-or-more goals on 10 occasions while outscoring opponents 51-32 (4.3 goals-per game).
Gulls netminder Anthony Stolarz stopped 31-of-33 shots for his fifth straight win and eighth consecutive game with 30-or-more saves. Stolarz now ranks tied for second among AHL goaltenders in wins (18) and tied for sixth in save percentage (.921). San Diego received offensive contributions from 10 different skaters while Chris Mueller, Alex Broadhurst, Daniel Sprong and Jack Kopacka netted goals in the victory.
Kopacka scored a goal and added a primary assist for his third multi-point effort this season. Blake Pietila recorded an assist on the game-winning goal to extend his point streak to a season-high four games (2-3=5).
San Diego netted the first goal of the evening when Mueller stuffed home a rebound with 4:16 remaining in the opening frame. His 16th goal of the season marks a season-high three-game goal streak (3-0=3) and fourth marker his last five games (4-0=4). With the lone assist on the play, Chase De Leo has recorded 1-5=6 points over the last five contests.
San Diego held a 12-8 lead in shots on goal and a 1-0 lead on the scoreboard through the first 20 minutes of play. The Gulls have scored the first goal of the game in 15 of the last 21 games played.
The Gulls would score three goals in the second period for the second straight game, netting all three in a span of 3:15. Broadhurst finished off a Kopacka pass 7:31 into the middle frame after Justin Kloos won a puck battle along the board and found Kopacka in the slot, who deked Brandon Manning for the Broadhurst to tap it in back door on goaltender Stuart Skinner.
“I didn’t have to do much, it was a pretty open net for me,” said Broadhurst. “I was just happy I didn’t miss it. It was a great look from him (Kopacka), he had a fantastic night. He was moving his feet and doing all the right things. He was a big part of our line tonight.”
San Diego scored another two goals in a span of 21 seconds to take a commanding lead. Sprong scored his 10th goal of the season with 9:35 remaining in the second period on another tap in as Pietila’s shot went wide of the net and caromed off the end boards to Sprong.
Kopacka scored the fourth and final goal at 10:46 of the middle period as Corey Tropp sprung him on a breakaway attempt with the left win going bar down on Skinner for the multi-point game. Simon Benoit picked up an assist on the play to extend his point streak to a career best three games (1-2=3).
“When all lines are contributing like that, it’s huge,” added Broadhurst. “Once you get one goal, and the second one comes, it’s kind of a rhythm and builds momentum and then obviously the third one comes. It’s good when you’re playing good hockey and pucks go in the net, and good things happen.”
Bakersfield tallied their first goal of the game with 4:51 remaining in the middle stanza as Brad Malone tipped a Tyler Benson shot through Stolarz. With 7:15 left in the final frame Bakersfield had a chance to cut the Gulls lead, but Stolarz came up with a huge save. The Condors entered the Gulls zone on a 4-on-2, which led to Benson finding a wide open Jake Kulevich to the right side of the San Diego netminder. Kulevich fired a one-timer on net, but Stolarz sprawled backward to make a no-look toe save.
The Condors cut the lead in half with 5:04 remaining in regulation when Ryan McLeod walked the puck to the circle and chipped it over Stolarz into the back of the net for the final goal of the game.
Down two goals, Bakersfield elected to pull Skinner for an extra attacker in a late effort to tie the game. Stolarz stopped a puck around the boards and the netminder attempted a shot on the empty net, but a Bakersfield forward high-sticked the puck out of the air to prevent what could’ve been the first goal by a netminder in club history. The Gulls held on to the lead and won their third straight game.
“We made a little rule at the end, [Stolarz] was the only guy allowed to shoot at the empty net,” joked Dineen on Stolarz scoring chance. “We gave him the opportunity, and it was a bit interesting that they knocked that puck out of the air. Would have been interesting to see if it would have worked its way into the net. As much as he has done for us on the defensive side, we were going to give him that opportunity on the offensive side. Stolarz has really been wonderful for us.”
San Diego will embark on a three-game road trip beginning Friday, Feb. 14 at the Iowa Wild (5 p.m. PT). The road trip also includes contests Saturday, Feb. 15 at Iowa (4 p.m. PT) and Monday, Feb. 17 at Stockton (1 p.m. PT).