Gulls Shutout Streak Ends In 5-1 Loss To AdmiralsJan 7, 2023
By Brett Pickler/SanDiegoGulls.com
The San Diego Gulls drop the final game of the season series with the Milwaukee Admirals 5-1 tonight at UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena.
The Gulls entered tonight riding a wave of confidence. They won four out of their last five games and were looking to leave Milwaukee with their first three-game win streak of the season. On the other hand, the Admirals were looking to avoid a three-game losing streak.
Looking to turn their current luck around, Milwaukee started the period on the front foot. They held the Gulls in their zone most of the opening frame, outshooting San Diego 19-5. This sustained pressure put the Gulls on their heels and forced them to take penalties. The Admirals had three opportunities on the man advantage, but the play of goaltender Lukas Dostal kept San Diego in the game.
At one point, Milwaukee had a two-man advantage. The Admirals created multiple high-danger chances around the crease. Dostal was not fazed by this onslaught. He denied multiple one-time attempts and their coinciding rebound chances. His efforts between the pipes in the first period gave his team the confidence to try and stretch the ice in an effort to create offense.
However, this strategy came back to hurt the Gulls. At the 11:59 mark of the first period, the Admirals caught the Gulls changing on a neutral zone rush. This allowed Milwaukee to attack on a 2-on-1 with speed. Dostal focused on the shooter, but a skillful pass from right wing Luke Evangelista found defenseman Kevin Gravel backdoor for the tap in. This goal ended Dostal’s shutout streak at 152:31, setting a new team record (previously held by John Gibson at 137:13).
The Gulls managed to get the momentum back on their side before the end of the period. Following a hit in the offensive zone, Gulls right wing Travis Howe dropped the gloves with center Tommy Apap. The two squared off, but Howe easily handled the scrap, giving his team energy heading into the second period.
Riding the momentum from the fight, the Gulls started the middle frame flying. They quickly established themselves in the Admirals’ zone and nearly converted on a backdoor effort by center Glenn Gawdin in the first minute. Despite not scoring, San Diego was granted a power play. They were able to generate a few chances but could not even the score.
Milwaukee regained control of the action after the quick start by the Gulls. They combined for three goals in 2:27. Their first goal came at the 5:57 mark when defenseman Jordan Gross hammered a one-timer top shelf from the left faceoff dot. They struck again at 7:47 when right wing Phil Tomasino showcased his impressive skating ability as he weaved his way through the Gulls defense, sliding the puck in low glove. Milwaukee’s third goal came on the power play. A deflected shot bounced behind the net. Scrambling to cover the puck, Dostal dove for the loose puck only for the Admirals to gain control. They took the puck behind the net and fed the puck to left wing Cole Schneider for the open net at the top of the crease to make it 4-0. Goaltender Olle Eriksson Ek relieved Dostal following the goal.
"We all know there's nothing he could have had on any of those goals that happened," assistant coach Jason Clarke said on the team's play around Dostal. "The biggest and foremost thing on all those plays is we lost a lot of one-on-one battles tonight. When you lose a lot of one-on-one battles, and they continue to have pressure after pressure after pressure, sooner or later the puck is going to go in the net. Just one of those games. We were pretty good the first night, they were better than we were the second night. They deserved to win and we didn't."
The Admirals added to their lead at the 15:40 mark of the period. Right wing Markus Nurmi caught a stretch pass that sent him attacking into the Gulls zone. Instead of shooting on a partial breakaway, he dropped the puck to Schneider creating a skillful give-and-go play. He got the puck back near the faceoff dot and wristed the puck top shelf. The Gulls did not go away though, drawing a penalty just under two minutes later. San Diego won the faceoff and converted in seven seconds. Gawdin received a pass at the blue line, walked in and rifled a shot glove side making the score 5-1 heading into the third period.
San Diego entered the final frame looking to erase a large deficit. Right wing Evan Weinger nearly cut into Milwaukee’s lead on a partial breakaway. He used his strength to get around the Admiral defender and sent a backhand shot at the net that trickled wide. The Gulls had two opportunities on the power play in the third, but Milwaukee stood tall closing out the game, 5-1.
Eriksson Ek finished the game stopping 12 out of 13 shots against in 31:22 of relief play. Dostal is credited with the loss after allowing four goals on 28 shots. Gawdin now has two goals in as many games while defenseman Michael Del Zotto extended his point streak to three games (1-2=3).
"Any time you can come on the road and win the first game early...we would have liked to play with a little more urgency to get two (wins)," Clarke said. "If you would have asked me to come here and we would get a split during the weekend, I think everyone would be fairly happy with a split coming on the road after our first road trip of the new year. Power play scored two goals on the weekend, which was good. We scored some 5-on-5 goals. I thought the penalty kill was good all weekend. All in all, out of the six periods we played, we played three, three-and-a-half really good periods and the other ones weren't so good. You forget about it and move on. We have San Jose on Wednesday. We have to sharpen up a few things we didn't do well tonight, and hopefully we're going to take some of this momentum into the game against San Jose on Wednesday."