Reign Double Up Gulls As Losing Skid Hits ThreeDec 10, 2021
By AJ Manderichio/SanDiegoGulls.com
The San Diego Gulls dropped the front end of their weekend rivalry series with the Ontario Reign, falling 4-2 tonight at Toyota Arena.
Brayden Burke scored the decisive tally, a game-winning goal in the third period, to cap a multi-point performance. Martin Frk (1-1=2), Austin Wagner and Tyler Madden each scored for the Reign. Goaltender Matthew Villalta stopped 15 shots to collect his ninth win of the season.
Greg Pateryn and Jacob Perreault scored for the Gulls, who dropped a third straight game. Lukas Dostal made 22 saves in the loss.
"We had our chances to tie the game a few times," Gulls head coach Joel Bouchard said. "I just feel we got a little bit overwhelmed at times. I think we, even if we have a lot of young guys, we could be a little better than that. It’s disappointing. You’re pretty close. You have some good moment in the game. I still think we had a lot of guys that could do a little better.
"I know I’m demanding. I know they have a hell of a lineup. I know they have a hell of a hockey club. And I know we shut them down for a big part of the game and I could come in here with pom poms and tell you how great we did with a young team, but I want more. I need more. And this is the message I give the guys. I’m not mad at them. I just feel we got a little more in some details, but I know it’s not a lack of caring. It’s just that I’ve gotta raise the bar. I’m not using any excuses here."
The fireworks started immediately, as the rivals both scored before the five-minute mark of regulation.
San Diego struck first, as Perreault collected his eighth goal of the season just 3:11 into regulation. Danny O'Regan chipped a puck past the Reign defense at center ice, sending Brayden Tracey and Perreault into Ontario's zone on a 2-on-1 rush. Tracey patiently waited for the passing lane to open, feeding a cutting Perreault. He fought through a stick check and tapped the puck into an open net for the goal.
The tally broke a six-game scoreless streak for Perreault, who entered tonight leading San Diego in goals and tied for the team lead in points.
"We got work to do still, but obviously I’m looking where he is coming from from two years ago and last year and now," Bouchard said. "We’re asking (a lot of him), but that’s his job to deliver."
Tracey has points in back-to-back games and 4-5=9 points in his last six games. He's tied for sixth in scoring among AHL rookie leaders with 6-10=16 points. Tracey is tied for the team lead in scoring and tied for the team lead in assists.
Frk evened the score just over a minute later, converting on a rush chance for his 11th goal of the season. He's tied for second among league leaders in goals, and his 11-12=23 points lead the Reign.
The two teams would once again trade goals in the second period.
Wagner broke the one-goal tie with 8:23 left in the middle frame, giving Ontario its first lead of the game.
Defenseman Austin Strand bombed a shot that deflected off traffic in front. The puck skittered to Wagner, who crashed the crease from the side boards and slammed the puck past a sliding Dostal for his third goal of the season.
Pateryn responded, pulling San Diego even with 1:25 left in the period.
Kodie Curran held the point along the boards. He swept a pass to Pateryn, who wound up and fired a shot from the low point toward the net. The puck found its way through traffic and through Villalta for the defenseman's second goal of the season.
"Just with the power play and our unit there, I’m just keeping it as simple as possible," Pateryn said. "Getting pucks at the net, getting traffic there and you know, eventually, something is going to go in and we were lucky that one did there."
The goal came just seconds after a Gulls power play. San Diego failed to score on the man advantage, going 0-for-6 against their rival. Over the last three games, the unit is 1-for-23. Pateryn is hoping his tally will help bring momentum to the special teams moving forward.
"Yeah, you know anytime you get a goal whether the power play is ending or right at the end, it definitely gives that group a little bit of confidence and a little bit of sustainability in those things working and sticking to it," he said. "So, it was good just for the mindset of the group to show that something like that can be effective."
Ontario would take control in the final frame, with Burke scoring the decisive tally just 1:06 into the final frame.
The left wing came skating down into the slot, converting a Frk feed from below the goal line just before losing an edge and falling to the ice. His shot zipped past the outstretched glove of Dostal for Burke's fourth goal of the season.
Dostal would keep the score there, making a dazzling pad save on Samuel Fagemo at 7:14 of the period.
The Reign held the puck in San Diego's zone, attacking in waves and pressuring the Gulls defense. Fagemo found open room in the slot, taking a pass and working alone on Dostal. He deked to his backhand and looked to slide his shot along the ice, but a pad save put an end to the scoring threat.
San Diego couldn’t find the game-tying tally, eventually pulling Dostal for the extra attacker with just over two minutes left in regulation. Madden iced the Reign victory, scooping a puck from his blue line into the empty net for his seventh goal of the season.
The two teams will finish this series tomorrow night at Pechanga Arena San Diego. It marks the start of a season-long seven-game homestand for the Gulls, who have points in five straight home games (4-0-1-0).
"We haven’t played that much lately and I feel we had some decent performance versus good teams, but not great performances," Bouchard said. "But we’re in there. I thought last weekend we coulda won one of the two. We lost tonight and I feel we could have been a little better to get, maybe, our chance to go a little deeper in the game. Although we were just one shot away with a minute left. Looking forward to seeing how we’re going to react and see if we can improve just a little bit from tonight."