Gulls Triumph Against Reign, 4-1Nov 13, 2022
By Brett Pickler/SanDiegoGulls.com
The San Diego Gulls defeated rival Ontario Reign, 4-1 at Toyota Arena.
Gulls goaltender Lukas Dostal continued his hot stretch with another impressive performance tonight. His skills were on full display as he stopped 28 out of 29 shots, neutralizing one of the most powerful offenses in the American Hockey League.
From the opening puck drop, there was a sense of urgency from the Gulls. They pressured the Reign hard, not allowing any easy breakouts or zone entries. This aggressive approach appeared to stun Ontario and resulted in them not registering a shot until the 14:08 mark of the first period.
San Diego created multiple chances from their unrelenting forecheck and shook the confidence of Ontario’s defensemen. At the 5:03 mark of the first, the Gulls thought they had the early lead. After regaining the puck in the offensive zone, forward Danny O’Regan utilized his strength and skating ability to defend the puck and sent a pass to forward Brayden Tracey who hammered the puck into the net. The goal was waved off due to goaltender interference, but this did not slow the Gulls down.
"They said it was goaltender interference," assistant coach Jason Clarke said. "After looking at it, I don't think they had the right call, but they also didn't have video available to them in the first period. It was down. Just one of those things."
The second period belonged to the Gulls. The scoring started just 22 seconds into the period. Following a picture-perfect forecheck from Justin Kirkland, forward Rocco Grimaldi rifled a one-timer from the slot.. The Gulls did not let off the gas, both offensively and physically, after this goal.
Forward Hunter Drew found himself in a heavyweight tilt against former Anaheim Duck, Nate Thompson. After the dust settled, the teams skated four-on-four. The open ice allowed for San Diego’s skill to shine, and forward Jacob Perreault took advantage of the extra space. He received the puck near the blueline and drew in a Reign defender. With the pressure increasing, he spun off the defender and darted toward the net on a partial breakaway. His initial shot was stopped but he got control of the rebound and put it home to give San Diego a two-goal lead.
Fourteen seconds later, defenseman Luka Profaca found himself all alone with the goalie after leaving the penalty box. He walked in on goaltender Pheonix Copley and showed off his silky mitts, pulling the puck to his backhand and going over the blocker for his first career professional goal. Up 3-0, the Gulls shifted their focus to protecting their lead.
"I think backhand is kind of my move," Profaca said about his milestone goal. "Since I've been doing it since I was six-years-old (laughs). These are pro goalies, they're the best at what they do. I don't know; it all happened so fast."
Ontario began to mount pressure in the offensive zone, but the Gulls would not break. They did not allow the Reign any space and consistently shut down the attack. When the puck did reach Dostal, there were limited rebounds and a full flock of Gulls ready to attack if anyone got too close to their netminder.
The Reign would get one goal back late in the third, but defenseman Nikolas Brouillard iced the game with an empty net goal with less than a minute left to play. He joined Grimaldi in registering two points in the contest; forward Benoit-Olivier Groulx finished the night with three assists.
"The better we get on tops of pucks in our end and have those little dink plays to get out, we seem to have a lot of success in the other end," Clarke said. "It seems to be a common theme for us. We just need to continue to make sure to pay attention to details on that part of our game."