Grimaldi Scores Twice, Gulls Fall To The Silver KnightsNov 27, 2022
By Brett Pickler/SanDiegoGulls.com
Despite a two-goal performance from Rocco Grimaldi, the San Diego Gulls saw their nine-game standings points streak against the Henderson Silver Knights end in a 5-2 loss at The Dollar Loan Center.
The Gulls came into tonight’s game with little rest, heading straight to Henderson after a tough 4-1 loss to the Coachella Valley Firebirds last night. This, mixed with injuries and non-COVID illnesses, created a unique lineup and a hurdle for San Diego. The team skated with 12 forwards and just five defensemen, including Dmitry Osipov switching from forward to the blue line. In addition, the team welcomed two new faces in Logan Nijhoff and Max Golod, who both arrived from the ECHL’s Tulsa Oilers earlier in the day.
"They battled and, you know, pretty depleted lineup right now," head coach Roy Sommer said regarding the rough position the team was in heading into tonight's contest. "We had four D(efensemen) left and we actually put Osipov on the back, and I thought he did a great job back there. He moved parks, he was physical and kept it simple and was effective for us."
The game started with the Gulls taking two penalties within the first 1:01 of the game. This gave the Silver Knights an early chance to establish their offense and gain some confidence with the puck. San Diego managed to kill off the 5-on-3 attack, thanks to the efforts of goaltender Lukas Dostal. During the penalty kill, Henderson peppered him with shots, forcing the Brno, Czech Republic native to make a desperation kick save on a back door chance.
It looked like the Gulls were gaining momentum, immediately going on the power play after the 5-on-3. They were able to win the draw and set up in the zone, but Silver Knights’ right wing Spencer Foo picked up a loose puck went down the ice to score a shorthanded breakaway goal. From here, Henderson started to control the period.
The Silver Knights tallied two more goals in the opening period. Colt Conrad converted on a 2-on-1 chance at 8:51 of the period, and Mason Primeau followed up with a power-play tally just 80 seconds later.
At the end of the period, the Gulls started to find their rhythm. Grimaldi took control and began the comeback effort. While on the power play, he received the puck at the faceoff dot after the Gulls worked it around the top of the zone. He settled the puck and fired it five-hole to make it 3-1.
Grimaldi continued to lead the offense in the second period. The Gulls earned another power play just under three minutes into the period. The puck found its way onto Grimaldi’s stick in the slot, and he ripped a shot bar down, cutting Henderson’s lead to one. It marks Grimaldi’s first multi-goal game since Feb. 2, 2022, when he scored twice against the Manitoba Moose as a member of the Milwaukee Admirals. Additionally, the goal moved him into second for power-play goals among all American Hockey League skaters. Gulls center Danny O’Regan picked up his second assist of the game on the goal, finishing the night leading San Diego in both assists (13) and power play assists (8).
"We changed the units a little bit, so we had different looks out there and we scored two," forward Benoit-Olivier Groulx said about the team's success on the power play. "We are pretty happy with that. We had really good chances that could have changed the game, but they had huge breaks, big blocks. I think the power play was really good today."
San Diego controlled the action throughout the period. After the rough opening frame, the Gulls seemed to settle into their new-look lineup. They were better in all three zone and Dostal shut down any scoring chance the Silver Knights created.
The Gulls looked to use their momentum to tie the game in the third period. An opportunity arose when the Gulls went on the power play. With two goals on the man-advantage already, this gave San Diego a prime chance to tie the game. They put pucks on net but could not capitalize on the resulting chances.
San Diego found themselves back on the penalty kill, making their comeback attempt much harder. However, Dostal stood tall, making multiple big saves to keep the Gulls in the game. His efforts helped kill off the penalty and give his team the chance to tie the game.
Henderson, however, would snuff out the comeback bid with a late goal from Jonas Rondbjerg, who capitalized on a 2-on-1 chance with just over two minutes remaining in regulation. Foo would net his second of the game with an empty-net tally, sending the Gulls to their third consecutive loss.