Gulls Can't Find Groove On Disco NightJan 28, 2023
By AJ Manderichio/SanDiegoGulls.com
San Diego wasn’t feeling groovy in the team’s first-ever Disco Night, falling 7-2 to their rival Ontario Reign at Pechanga Arena San Diego.
Both Lias Andersson and Tyler Madden scored twice for Ontario, who continue to hold the fifth seed in the Pacific Division standings. Jacob Moverare (1-1=2) and T.J. Tynan (0-2=2) posted multi-point nights while Cal Petersen stopped 31 shots for the win.
Rocco Grimaldi and Bryce Kindopp scored for the Gulls, who dropped a second consecutive game. Goaltender Olle Eriksson Ek allowed five goals on 18 shots in 31:02. Lukas Dostal came on in relief, making 17 saves on 19 shots.
"I think they scored early and kind of put us on our heels," Gulls head coach Roy Sommer said. "We were kind of scratching our way, especially through the first period, trying to get through the neutral zone on them. We couldn’t get our forecheck going. You know, we made it 3-1. I thought we had a pretty good start to the second, made it 3-2, and then they get a blocked shot, the guy breaks his stick, gets in behind us and gets a breakaway goal, and 4-2 kind of put it out of reach there a little bit. I thought the third period was good; the guys didn’t quit. I thought it was our better period out of the three, had some good opportunities and good looks. Just couldn’t find the back of the net at the end. Pretty tall hill to climb when you’re down 6-2 to a team like that."
Andersson continued his strong play, opening the scoring at 4:55 of the opening frame. The Ontario wing finished a rush chance, taking a pass from Tyler Madden and putting it over the outstretched blocker of Eriksson Ek for his ninth goal in his last nine games.
The two teams would open things up later in the period, combining for three goals in 1:58.
Ontario began the outburst, netting a power-play goal with 7:19 left in the opening frame, extending Ontario’s lead to two. Andersson found Madden in front, and the center slid the puck past a scrambling Eriksson Ek for his ninth goal of the season.
Kindopp responded 40 seconds later, cutting the deficit to one.
Evan Weinger took a pass from Pavol Regenda, splitting the Ontario defense at their blue line and moving in alone on Cal Petersen. The winger saw his initial bid stopped, but alertly collected the rebound and found Kindopp with a pass to the slot. The forward took advantage, firing a low shot into an open net for his fourth goal of the season.
"You know, it’s something we’ve been looking for all year, secondary scoring," Sommer said. "If that line can start adding to the scoresheet, I think we’re going to be in pretty good shape coming down."
Ontario responded 17 seconds later, with Martin Chromiak beating Eriksson Ek for his eighth goal of the season.
Grimaldi brought the Gulls back within one, finding the back of the net just 1:33 into the middle frame.
Benoit-Olivier Groulx started the rush, carrying the puck out of his own end and finding Grimaldi at center ice. The winger did the rest, carrying the puck down the wing before firing a shot past Petersen for his 17th goal of the season.
For Groulx, the assist extends his point streak into a season-high third game (2-2=4).
"Bo (Benoit-Olivier Groulx) made a good play, shifted to the middle," Grimaldi explained. "Defenseman tried to step up and I just chipped it by him, went in and tried to put a shot on net, and thankfully, it went in."
Moverare pushed the Ontario lead to two, converting on a rebound at the side of the net minutes after Grimaldi’s tally.
"Yeah, it’s frustrating when you score and then they score within a minute, I think both times," Grimaldi said. "Then, it's 5, 6-2 or whatever it is and then you start playing well, but it's just too late. You can't be taking a couple periods off and then expect to come back in the third - that team is just too good, the teams in our league are too good. That’s just not gonna happen."
Ontario wouldn’t look back, with Andersson and Madden finding the net to stretch the Reign’s lead to four after the second period.
Alan Quine added on in the final frame, netting Ontario’s final goal of the game with just over five minutes left in the period.
The Gulls will continue their four-game homestand on Wednesday, Feb. 1 against the Abbotsford Canucks.
"We’ve got a home game here Wednesday against Abbotsford and go on the road for two against Coachella," Sommer said. "We just got to start putting something together; we’re running out of time."