Gulls Hang Seven On Rival ReignApr 13, 2021
The San Diego Gulls continued their season-long success against the Ontario Reign, defeating their Southern California rival 7-4 tonight at FivePoint Arena. The Gulls own a 38-20-3-2 all-time against the Reign, including a 6-1-0-0 mark this season.
Trevor Zegras and Chase De Leo powered San Diego offensively, each posting a career-high 2-2=4 points in the win. Benoit-Olivier Groulx (1-2=3) and Andrew Poturalski (1-1=2) also registered multi-point efforts as the Gulls scored at least six goals for the fifth time in the last eight games.
With seven goals tonight, San Diego became the first AHL club to reach 100 goals scored this season (104).
The game was a spirited contest throughout but got off to an especially quick start, even by Gulls-Reign standards. Ontario rookie Quinton Byfield was a called for a faceoff infraction on the opening draw, awarding San Diego a power play seconds into the action.
The Gulls capitalized on the early opportunity, as Zegras snapped a wrist shot past Jean-Francois Berube to put the Gulls ahead just 34 seconds into the first period.
Poturalski notched his league-leading 23rd assist on the game’s opening goal. The second-year Gull also paces the AHL in scoring (7-23=30) and tonight became the first AHL player to eclipse 30 points this season.
Lias Andersson evened the scored for Ontario with his fifth goal of the season at the 9:25 mark of the first period, taking a Samuel Fagemo centering feed and burying a shot past Lukas Dostal’s glove.
Minutes later, San Diego restored the one-goal lead with another power-play tally. Skating in his return to San Diego’s lineup, De Leo took a pass at the side of the net from Zegras and spun towards the slot, lifting a forehand shot past Berube to give the Gulls a 2-1 lead.
Zegras collected the primary assist and now owns 3-3=6 points in four games since his assignment to San Diego.
"He’s a highly-skilled player with good vision," De Leo said of his rookie linemate. "I think sometimes, in this league, you can get sucked down to a lower level of play. You’ve just got to find it within yourself to dig deep, push yourself and hold yourself to a higher standard, even though sometimes it’s hard. You can’t get roped into the bad habits if games aren’t going the way you want. He's just sticking to what got him here, doing the right things and playing hard."
With 2-2=4 points on the night, De Leo extended his point streak to a season-best five games (3-6=9).
"He has a level of consistency to his game and he plays the game extremely hard," said Gulls head coach Kevin Dineen on De Leo. "He’s got an offensive skillset that he showed on the power play tonight. He’s a guy you can play in a lot of situations. Strong game for Chase."
Ontario again tied the score as Arthur Kaliyev slammed home a backdoor pass from Jacob Moverare as the team’s concluded a back-and-forth first period deadlocked at two.
Moverare continued to be a thorn in San Diego’s side. The rookie defenseman has 1-4=5 points against the Gulls this season.
San Diego took its third lead of the night midway through the second period as the Gulls continued to excel on special teams. With De Leo serving a hooking minor, Groulx skated the puck into the Ontario zone by himself and directed a low shot on goal that snuck through Berube, restoring San Diego’s one-goal advantage with 9:26 left in the middle frame.
The goal marked Groulx’s second shorthanded goal of the season, the most by a rookie in club history.
The lead, much like the first two of the night, was short-lived. Markus Phillips pulled Ontario even again at 13:37 of the second period.
San Diego reclaimed the lead in the third period, this time for good, with Bryce Kindopp and Matt Lorito teaming up for the go-ahead goal four minutes into the final stanza. Lorito skated the puck past Phillips at center ice for an odd-man rush with Kindopp, who buried a rebound opportunity to put the Gulls ahead 4-3 with 15:51 left in the third period.
With the primary assist, Lorito has 4-3=7 points in his last seven games.
The Gulls captured their first two-goal lead of the night minutes later, again scoring on the man advantage. With Akil Thomas sitting for roughing, Zegras delivered a perfect backdoor pass to De Leo, who redirected the feed past Berube for his second goal of the night, putting San Diego ahead by two with 13:08 remaining in regulation.
With three power-play goals on the night, San Diego has eight goals on the man advantage in seven games (8-for-37, 21.6%).
"Our special teams were pretty dialed in tonight, especially the power play," said Groulx. "When you get the power play going, it’s always good. You give your team a little boost and you get the momentum for the next time going on the ice."
Ontario cut the deficit back to just one as Brent Sutter tipped in a point shot with 6:38 still to play in the third period.
Zegras extended San Diego’s lead to 6-4 with an empty-net goal at 19:11 of the third period. Poturalski added a second empty-net tally as the Gulls prevailed 7-4 for their sixth win over Ontario this season.
Axel Andersson collected his second career AHL point with an assist on Poturalski’s goal.
Dostal stopped 35-of-39 shots to earn his ninth career AHL win.
San Diego and Ontario renew acquaintances again Thursday at Toyota Sports Performance Center.