Gulls Fall In Close Game With ReignJan 13, 2023
By Brett Pickler/SanDiegoGulls.com
The San Diego Gulls fell to the Ontario Reign 3-1 tonight at Pechanga Arena San Diego.
It was clear from puck drop that these teams have bad blood. Both teams started the game physical, adding a little bit extra to each hit. Tempers reached a boiling point early, with Gulls right wing Travis Howe dropping the gloves with Reign left wing Tyrell Goulbourne. The two met at center ice and shed their equipment. After exchanging punches, Howe managed to land a few haymakers sending his opponent to the ice and the crowd into a frenzy.
However, the Reign did not let this affect their gameplan. In the opening period, they outshot the Gulls 17-3, with most of the time spent in San Diego’s zone. Luckily for the Gulls, goaltender Lukas Dostal came ready to play. He stopped all 17 attempts by Ontario, including a breakaway save on the first shot he faced. This was not his only highlight of the period as he stopped multiple one-time attempts against the highly talented Ontario offense, keeping the game scoreless going into the second.
"I'm really sick and tired of our starts and that has to change from the next game and we're literally killing ourselves with our starts, especially against a team like Ontario," forward Bo Groulx said. "If we have a bad start, you know, it's probably not gonna go our way."
The Gulls started the second period off strong, generating a few chances in front of the Ontario net. Then a too many men penalty reset the momentum. San Diego’s penalty kill continued to look strong, not allowing a shot against one of the best power plays in the Pacific Division. This gave the Gulls some life and they restarted their attack.
San Diego controlled play in the Ontario end through a strong forecheck. They got the puck to the blue line for an open shot on goal. Goaltender Matthew Villalta could not control the puck, creating a loose puck just outside the crease for Gulls right wing Pavol Regenda. As he went to control the puck, it bounced off his skate and into the net. Unfortunately, after review, the referees determined the puck was kicked into the net resulting in no goal.
Ontario used this call to retake control of the period. At the 8:18 mark, right winger Austin Wagner used his speed to split the Gulls’ defenders for a partial breakaway. Dostal made the initial stop on Wagner but could not get back in his crease, and Goulbourne fired it into the open net to give the Reign a 1-0 lead.
Down one entering the third period one, the Gulls needed a strong push to even the game. The period did not start off the way San Diego had hoped, taking an offensive zone penalty in the first four minutes. However, the Gulls did not let this stop their offensive attack. Defenseman Michael Del Zotto rushed up the ice attacking the zone with speed. He drove behind the net at full speed, beating the goalie to the far post and sliding the puck in on the wraparound to tie the game. This extends his point streak to five games. Unfortunately, Ontario still had time left on their power play and converted on the man advantage 1:03 later.
The Gulls continued to pressure the Reign after the goal. They created multiple chances after intercepting pucks in the Ontario zone. This pressure resulted in the Gulls heading to the power play with 6:30 remaining in the game. San Diego was relentless on the man advantage, winning puck battles and blocking clearing attempts, but were unable to break through the Reign’s penalty kill.
In a final push, the Gulls pulled Dostal to get an extra attacker. San Diego created some chances, but defenseman Jacob Moverare found the open goal on a clearing attempt from his defensive zone, icing the game at 3-1. Dostal finished the game with 35 save on 37 shots. Over his last five games, he registered a .954 save percentage (SV%) and a 1.79 goals-against average (GAA).