Gulls Cannot Complete Comeback Against GriffinsNov 18, 2022
By Brett Pickler/SanDiegoGulls.com
The San Diego Gulls fall to the Grand Rapids Griffins, 6-5, coming just short of completing a comeback at Pechanga Arena San Diego.
Grand Rapids’ aggressive start to the game appeared to catch the Gulls off guard. This, mixed with four first period penalties, forced San Diego to play most of the period in their defensive zone.
Entering tonight’s game, the Gulls penalty kill was textbook. As a team, they killed their last 20 penalties and had the second best kill in the American Hockey League at 88.9%. This streak ended when the Griffins took advantage of a 4-on-3 situation and found the back of the net to open the scoring. They would go on to score two more power play goals in the period to take 3-0 lead.
San Diego needed offense quickly to get back into the game. Forward Jacob Perreault stepped up and delivered. He found the open ice in front of the net with the Griffins defenders focused on the puck behind the net. Forward Brayden Tracey won the battle behind the net and fed Perreault who hammered a one-timer short side to make it 3-1.
"I remember the puck was in the corner, kind of battling kind and it squeezed out," Perreault said. "I kind of threw it at the net and Trace (Gulls left wing Brayden Tracey) got it behind, and I was just open in front and he gave it to me, and I just had to tap it in. So, it was pretty good."
The Gulls started the second period on the penalty kill; Grand Rapids’ power play struck again with time winding down on the kill, giving them a 4-1 lead.
However, being the resilient team they are, the Gulls struck back just 25 seconds later. San Diego managed to establish themselves in the offensive zone after a strong forecheck. Perreault picked up his second goal of the night by driving the net and jamming home a rebound. Tracey recorded his second assist of the night on this play.
The Gulls started to gain momentum. They developed a consistent attack in the Grand Rapids zone and Gulls goaltender Olle Eriksson Ek made key saves when his team needed it. San Diego made it a one-goal game when forward Danny O’Regan rifled a shot low glove from the faceoff dot.
It appeared that the Gulls were going to enter the third period down by one, but with 14 seconds left in the middle frame, Grand Rapids forward Taro Hirose scored his second goal of the game. San Diego needed a strong third period to make up the two-goal deficit.
The third period did not have an ideal start for the Gulls. Eriksson Ek was relieved by Lukas Dostal after struggling to get up from a sprawling save.
San Diego took to the power play shortly after this and were determined to cut into the lead. After winning the faceoff, the Gulls set up their offense. Forward Rocco Grimaldi received a pass around the top of the circle. He walked in and rifled a shot top shelf through a sea of players to make it 5-4.
Time started to become a factor in the game. However, the Gulls found themselves controlling the flow of the game with sustained pressure in the Griffins’ zone. The puck found its way to the point where defenseman Luka Profaca fired a shot on net. Tracey deflected the shot and tied the game at five.
Unfortunately for San Diego, Hirose would complete his hat trick bid and give the Griffins the lead with 1:28 left in the period. The Gulls once again had to battle the clock. They pulled the goalie and swarmed the Grand Rapids net, firing shots from all angles. San Diego would run out of time, losing 6-5. Dostal was credited with the loss after becoming the goalie of record.
The Gulls did have a strong offensive game with multiple players finding the scoresheet more than once. Perreault (2-1=3) and Tracey (1-2=3) led the offense while forward Benoit-Olivier Groulx registered two assists.
"They were good," head coach Roy Sommer. "That line was on from the start. You know, they made some great plays, had a lot of offensive time. had some good looks and scored some big goals for us."