Gulls Suffer Rare Loss To ReignApr 7, 2021
The San Diego Gulls saw their American Hockey League-leading seven-game winning streak snapped tonight in 4-2 loss to the Ontario Reign at FivePoint Arena. Despite the setback, San Diego leads the AHL in goals scored (88), home wins (12) and home points (24).
Ontario’s win also ended San Diego’s nine-game point streak (7-0-2-0) against its Southern California rival. The Gulls own a 38-20-3-2 all-time record against the Reign, including a 5-1 mark this season.
“They were a hungry team,” Gulls head coach Kevin Dineen said. “They played with a level of desperation from the opening faceoff. They put a lot of pressure on our defense. That was the thought process we had going into the game and we saw it. Unfortunately, it was coming at us instead of us delivering it.”
The Reign opened the scoring early in the first period as Aidan Dudas snuck a wrist shot through traffic and past Olle Eriksson Ek at the 2:26 mark of the opening frame.
Lias Andersson doubled the Ontario lead with a shorthanded goal with 1:19 left in the first period, beating Eriksson Ek on a breakaway.
The Gulls trailed 2-0 after the opening 20 minutes of action but pulled themselves even with a strong second period from defenseman Josh Mahura.
San Diego kick-started the comeback as Mahura raced down right wing and lofted a pass towards Bryce Kindopp, who crashed hard towards the Ontario goal. The puck never made it to Kindopp, instead taking a fortuitous bounce off an Ontario defender and past Jean-Francois Berube, putting San Diego within a goal 34 seconds into the middle frame.
Alex Limoges collected an assist on the goal, giving the San Diego rookie six points (1-5=6) in his first six professional games.
A physical game from the opening puck drop, emotions boiled in the second period as Gulls defenseman Trevor Carrick and Reign forward Boko Imama battled in a heavyweight scrap.
San Diego evened the score in the period’s final minutes with a tic-tac-toe passing play. Chase De Leo skated into the Ontario zone before directing a pass to Trevor Zegras, who quickly spun around and delivered a strike to Mahura, who converted for his second goal of the game, leveling the score at two with 1:38 left in the second period.
Scoring twice on the night, Mahura set a new career-high in goals (5) in just 15 games this season.
De Leo extended his point streak to four games (2-4=6) with an assist on the game-tying goal.
Ontario reclaimed the lead midway through the third period. Matt Luff notched the go-ahead tally, finishing off a pass from Markus Phillips to give the Reign a 3-2 lead with 8:10 to play in regulation.
Dudas collected an assist, earning a multi-point night (1-1=2).
Rasmus Kupari sealed Ontario’s win with a empty-net power-play goal at the 19:08 mark of the third period.
“It’s tough, I think they kind of beat us at our own game tonight,” Chase De Leo said. “When we’re on, we’re playing simple at the bluelines, getting pucks deep, going to work and not turning the puck over. They’re a good team, they like to trade chances and go back-and-forth, up and down the ice. When we’re at our best, like I said, we’re playing simple at the lines and making plays once we get it down low. I think we were a little bit too cute tonight and that’s not going to work for us when we’re turning the puck over and fueling that offense.”
After clicking at over 27% in the last six games, the Gulls failed to convert on seven power-play opportunities, including an extended 5-on-3 chance in the first period.
“It’s been a strength of ours,” Dineen explained. “Tonight there was some pressure applied and we didn’t respond very well to it. You like the overall picture of our power play over the last couple weeks but it was certainly lacking tonight.”
Eriksson Ek stopped 23-of-26 shots, suffering his first loss since March 14 against the Henderson Silver Knights and ending a personal five-game win streak.
San Diego returns to action this weekend with a back-to-back against the Tucson Roadrunners at Tucson Convention Center Arena.