San Diego Battles Hard But Falls To Grand RapidsOct 15, 2022
By Brett Pickler/SanDiegoGulls.com
The San Diego Gulls fell to the Grand Rapids Griffins 8-5 in a wild matchup at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids. The loss gave the Gulls a split of their season-opening weekend series.
The Gulls – fresh off a 5-2 win last night – looked to build off their success, but the Griffins came prepared right from puck drop. Grand Rapids Griffins opened the game by scoring three goals on three shots, causing Olle Eriksson Ek to relieve Lukas Dostal.
“Obviously, that’s not a start we wanted and when you get behind the 8-ball like that you’re climbing back the whole game,” Gulls center Glenn Gawdin said. “I think we stuck with it for the most part, but coming out like that, it wasn’t our goal,” Glenn Gawdin said. “We knew they were going to come out harder tonight than they did last night, so our start was a factor and we got to stay out of the box.”
It was Gawdin who put San Diego on the board, rifling a shot into the net for his first goal in a Gulls sweater just three minutes into the game. The recently signed Rocco Grimaldi collected the primary assist, his first point with San Diego. The Anaheim native spent training camp with his hometown Ducks, leading the National Hockey League club in preseason assists.
Grand Rapids continued to put pressure on San Diego, as they would extend their lead to 4-1 at the 11:48 mark of the period. The momentum would stay with the Griffins, as the Gulls found themselves defending a 5-on-3. The penalty kill stood strong, eliminating the chance and giving San Diego late jump. Brayden Tracey took advantage, finding the back of the net to cut the deficit to two before the end of the period.
The second period showcased the strength of both teams’ power-play units, as each each converted twice on the man advantage. Nikolas Brouillard blasted a one-timer from the top of the circle to score in his second consecutive game. Late in the period, Gawdin netted his second goal and third point of the night to make it a 7-4 game after two periods.
“Well, the three goals on three shots,” Gulls head coach Roy Sommer said. “Right when we seemed to get some momentum, we take a penalty and they would score, or it was just one of those games that if we were going to win, it was going to be a 9-8, 8-7 type of score. I think the one that killed us was the shorty (shorthanded goal). We were actually playing all right and we were starting to come around a little bit, we were a goal down or two goals down and then they scored that and that kind of took the air out of our tires a little bit. Then, we start coming again and then we’d score and then they’d score. It’s was just one of those games.”
Heading into the final period, San Diego would not give up. Olli Juolevi brought San Diego within one, collecting his first goal as a Gull at 7:51 of the final frame. San Diego evened earned an extended 5-on-3 advantage late in regulation, but failed to find the back of the net. Grand Rapids would ice the game with an empty-net tally near the end of the third.
“The biggest thing about it is you could say whatever you want, but we didn’t, no one quit,” Sommer said. “We went all the way to the buzzer. Even when we were down goals at the end, you know, we kept pushing. We had that 5-on-3. I thought if we score on that, we make it a one-goal game and then you never know what can happen. They ended up getting the empty netter and kind of the way the game was going for us, we just weren’t getting a lot of bounces, but I like our offense.”
The Gulls return home to face the Ontario Reign in their Home Opener presented by Cal Coast Credit Union on Friday, Oct. 21 at 7 p.m. PT.