Gulls Run Out Of Steam Against Admirals, Lose 3-1Nov 4, 2022
By Brett Pickler/SanDiegoGulls.com
The San Diego Gulls fall to the Milwaukee Admirals 3-1 at Pechanga Arena San Diego.
From the opening faceoff, each team took turns trying to establish their forecheck. San Diego started the game with the upper hand, creating confusion in the Milwaukee zone. This resulted in Gulls forward Justin Kirkland finding a loose puck near the bottom of the circle; he quickly fired it at the net but missed wide.
San Diego controlled the flow of the game until they conceded a minor penalty. Milwaukee used this to take control of the period. Their power play consisted of multiple opportunities, but the Gulls stood tall.
Following the successful kill, San Diego could not re-establish their earlier pressure. The Admirals capitalized on a failed Gulls clear with a blueline shot through a sea of players at the 10:51 mark. At this point, Milwaukee outshot San Diego, 10-2.
Gulls head coach Roy Sommer highlighted problematic turnovers following the game: "We turned a couple of pucks over that came back to being good scoring chances against. We have to manage pucks better in our own end and get our forecheck going. We need to get pucks to the net and bodies to the net on this guy."
The Gulls, being the resilient team they are, would not back down following the goal and began to attack. Gulls forward Rocco Grimaldi used his speed to steal a puck after a Milwaukee defenseman lost his footing. He went down on a partial breakaway and rifled a shot just above the hashmarks into the glove of the Admirals goalie.
Just as the Gulls retook control of the period, a five-minute major stopped them in their tracks. This would be a big test for the penalty kill unit who, at this point, had killed 19 out of their last 20 penalties. The major did not affect San Diego as they still created chances while down a man and eventually closed out the period.
To start the second, the Gulls easily killed off the remaining time on the major penalty and put their foot on the gas pedal.
For the next 10 minutes, San Diego controlled the action. Defenseman Luka Profaca found himself alone in the high slot and wristed the puck looking for his first career American Hockey League goal. The Gulls weren’t able to capitalize on the rebound, but continued to mount pressure on Milwaukee.
As the period progressed, San Diego’s dominant play continued in their defensive zone. With a loose puck causing havoc in front of the net, Gulls forward Bryce Kindopp put his body on the line to block a shot from the slot targeted for the open net. His sacrifice put Pechanga Arena into a frenzy as the Gulls then went on a counterattack.
Right as the period was set to expire, Grimaldi saw an opening and sprung on the attack creating a two-on-one. Realizing the situation, he shot the puck low to create a rebound. The puck went directly to the stick of forward Benoit-Olivier Groulx, but it was too hot to handle and deflected off his stick when he attempted the one-timer.
San Diego entered the third period trailing 1-0. Goaltender Lukas Dostal once again showed his value between the pipes.
Unfortunately, a neutral zone breakdown gave the Admirals a breakaway. Milwaukee converted on their chance with a far-side shot off the post to make it 2-0. Then, at the 6:14 mark of the period, Milwaukee extended their lead to three following a beautiful passing sequence on a three-on-one that led to a backdoor tap in.
With a large deficit to comeback from, San Diego needed a quick goal. They pressured Milwaukee and created multiple chances in the slot. Forward Jacob Perrault got a pass from below the goal line and ripped a shot that squeezed through the arm of the goalie but trickled wide.
The Gulls would eventually get one back after forward Pavol Regenda hammered a slap shot top shelf from the blueline. This would be too little too late with the game ending 3-1.
Following the game Regenda described how the Gulls could improve: "We just have to continue to skate, be aware of turnovers - it was our biggest problem. Even breaking out, we had turnovers where (they attacked) 2-on-0, 3-on-1. That's the biggest problem; we have to make it better tomorrow and keep on pushing. I think we have a really good team; just have to score some goals."
San Diego finished the game with a perfect penalty kill and Dostal made 35 out of 38 saves.