Gulls Offense Comes to Life, Dostal Blanks Silver KnightsNov 8, 2022
By Brett Pickler/SanDiegoGulls.com
The San Diego Gulls offense exploded for a 7-0 victory over the Henderson Silver Knights at The Dollar Loan Arena in Henderson.
"It was a good way to come out a slump," Gulls head coach Roy Sommer said. "We knew it was there. I've kind of been talking about it, we've been doing a lot of good things, like cleaned up our d(efensive) zone and neutral zone and started to get a little offense. We were getting good looks and we ran into hot goaltenders and, tonight, the floodgates opened for us."
The Gulls entered tonight’s game looking convert their scoring chances. It appeared as if this would be a challenge, with Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Laurent Brossoit in net on a conditioning stint, but the opening period turned out to be an offensive clinic from San Diego.
Scoring four goals on 14 shots, the Gulls put everything together. The explosion began on the power play, courtesy of San Diego’s ruthless forecheck. Gulls forward Benoit-Olivier Groulx deflected the puck into the net at 8:44 of the period, capping off a picture-perfect man advantage.
Less than five minutes later, San Diego started to catch fire. Forward Jacob Perreault noticed Brossoit was late to his post and ripped a shot from the corner. The puck beat him to the post, giving Perreault his second goal in as many games. A minute later, defenseman Drew Helleson extended the lead to three after blasting a seeing-eye shot through net-front traffic for his first career professional goal.
"It felt good and for some reason there, I couldn’t get one to go (in) for a long time there," he said following the game. "Hopefully, when it rains, it pours here."
The action-packed opening period ended after forward Rocco Grimaldi stole the puck in the defensive zone. He used his speed to create a partial breakaway. When it looked like he was about to shoot, he slammed on the breaks, allowing Justin Kirkland to step into a wrist shot and fire it high to make it 4-0 with 36 seconds left in the frame. Kirkland would go on to tie a career-high in single game points with 1-2=3.
San Diego entered the second period with their confidence high. They chased Brossoit, who made 10 saves on 14 shots, and kept their foot on the gas with new goaltender Jiri Patera in net. Following a textbook forecheck, Grimaldi intercepted a breakout pass at the faceoff dot. He quickly gave the puck to Groulx who drove the net from the goal line, stuffing it home for his second of the game.
Up 5-0, the Gulls looked for more offense. Grimaldi picked up his fourth point of the night on a wrist shot from the faceoff dot at 9:12 of the period, receiving a cross-ice pass from Kirkland and putting it past Patera.Forty-two seconds later, defenseman Nikolas Brouillard attacked the Henderson zone at full speed. After some sleek stick handling in the high slot, he started a give-and-go inside the hashmarks and slid a pass to forward Danny O’Regan who one-timed the puck into the back of the net. Forward Pavol Regenda extended his point streak to four-games with an assist on the Gulls’ seventh goal of the game.
"It just shows we're capable of scoring goals," Sommer said of the season-high goal total. "We have goals in that room, we just weren't seeing them. Now maybe guys won't be gripping their sticks so tight and letting it fly."
Offense was not the only high point for San Diego tonight. Gulls netminder Lukas Dostal continued his high-level play by posting a career-high 28 save shutout. Despite his dominance between the pipes, it was not an easy ride as the Gulls conceded seven penalties, tying a season high.
"That's even better," Sommer said. "I have to give the guys a lot of credit, came down at the end and they got in front of some pucks and continued to work on it. They weren't cheating and trying to get goals, they were working for their goaltender, which was good to see."
Dostal controlled the crease, never seeming flustered by the Henderson attack. His composure in net helped the Gulls tie their AHL record for the largest margin of victory, with the seven-goal difference tying the team’s 8-1 win against the Tucson Roadrunners on Jan. 25, 2017.
"I mean, we felt the last few games we’ve been trending in the right direction," Helleson said following the win. "So, it felt good. We kind of felt we deserved to at least get one of those against Milwaukee so to finally score some goals and like you said, break out, it feels good and hopefully, we can keep it that going."