The Empire Won Tonight

Grimaldi Hat Trick Helps Gulls Secure Point In Overtime Loss

Feb 18, 2023

By AJ Manderichio/

The San Diego Gulls stretched their home point streak to three games, falling 4-3 in overtime tonight at Pechanga Arena San Diego.

Rocco Grimaldi led the way for San Diego, finishing with his third American Hockey League hat trick. Michael Del Zotto recorded a career-high three assists while Chase De Leo recorded a point in his return to the lineup. Rookie goaltender Gage Alexander stopped 16 shots in the loss.

The two teams traded goals in the opening frame, putting the Reign ahead after 20 minutes.

Chromiak opened the scoring, converting on a breakaway chance at 9:13 of the period.

Grimaldi responded later in the frame, collecting his 22nd goal of the season with under five minutes left in the opening frame. Pavol Regenda collected a pass in the faceoff circle, laying a soft pass back to a streaking Del Zotto. The defenseman sent a low shot wide of the crease, finding Grimaldi for the tip-in tally.

The right wing finished the game leading San Diego in goals (22) and points (48).

Ontario jumped back ahead later in the frame, with Lias Andersson tipping a puck past Alexander for a power play goal.

The middle frame belonged to San Diego, who outshot Ontario 14-3 and evened the score at two on Grimaldi’s second goal of the game.

De Leo started the play, working himself around the Reign defense and finding Del Zotto with a cross-ice pass. The defenseman held the puck momentarily before finding a cutting Grimaldi, who sent the pass through a sliding Matthew Villalta for the goal.

The three shots against marked a season-low in the second period for the Gulls, who carried the momentum into the final frame.

Grimaldi finished off the hat trick near the midway mark of the third period.

Jacob Perreault started the play, digging a puck out of the corner to find Del Zotto at the point. The defenseman sent a short pass to Grimaldi, who curled off the wall to the top of the slot. His shot floated through traffic and past Villalta, securing his first hat trick since Jan. 22, 2022 with Milwaukee against the Rockford IceHogs.

Ontario tied the game late in regulation, with Andersson converting on a rebound for his second goal of the game. They grabbed the extra point in overtime, with Chromiak beating Alexander to clinch the win.

The Gulls continue their homestand tomorrow against the Bakersfield Condors at 5 p.m. PT.

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