Gulls Thrash Rival Reign In Lone Preseason MatchupOct 8, 2022
By Brett Pickler/SanDiegoGulls.com
The San Diego Gulls defeated the rival Ontario Reign 6-2 in a physical preseason matchup at Pechanga Arena San Diego. The Gulls now hold an all-time preseason record against the Reign of 11-5-0-2.
The rivalry matchup featured 17 minor penalties and 76 total penalty minutes. The tone started just 19 seconds into regulation as Josh Lopina earned the game’s first call, one of five San Diego minor penalties in the first period.
Ontario scored on their first power-play opportunity but were unable to produce on the following chances due to Lukas Dostal’s stellar play.
Despite playing nearly half the period a man down, the Gulls broke through late with a power-play goal of their own. Blake McLaughlin converted a chance after an onslaught of opportunities, curling around the back of the net and stuffing the puck past Reign netminder Matthew Villalta. Lopina and Jacob Perreault picked up assists.
Penalties continued to dictate play, as the teams traded man-advantage opportunities in the second period. Ontario took three minors – including handing the Gulls a 4-on-3 opportunity – but kept the score knotted at one.
Dostal contributed to the low score as he stopped 18-of-19 shots before swapping with Olle Eriksson Ek. This being a preseason game, both goalies were expected to share time between the pipes.
As the period progressed, San Diego utilized a strong forecheck to capitalize for its first lead of the game. Logan Nijhoff buried a loose puck in the crease to give the Gulls a 2-1 lead.
Noticeably, the second period is when the intensity reached a boiling point. Hunter Drew took exception to a hit by Reign forward Samuel Helenius, dropping the gloves for a heavyweight bout in his defensive zone. It wouldn’t be the last, as late in the period Perreault found himself squaring off with Cameron Gaunce following a boarding penalty.
"It's kind of all part of the game," Gulls head coach Roy Sommer said. "You want to see guys finish their hits. It was 12 minors to five, half the game was special teams, so that was kind of hard. You could see both teams don't like each other, so that fits for good fan support."
The third period continued to be good practice for the special team units. San Diego ended the win 2-for-7 on the man advantage and held Ontario to just one power-play goal in 10 opportunities.
"With almost 18 minors or something like that, almost half the game was special teams," Sommer said. "I think we saw what we needed to see. I think certain guys stepped up and they were kind of on defense a little bit. You always like to finish with a win and go in the season on a high note."
San Diego struck first in the third as Bryce Kindopp put on a show with a great individual effort to score a shorthanded goal to extend the Gulls lead to 3-1.
Kindopp continued his third period takeover by scoring his second of the night four minutes later to make it a 4-1 game.
The three-goal lead would be short lived as the Reign snuck one past Eriksson Ek moments later. The Karlstad, Sweden native earned the win in relief, stopping five-of-six shots in 28:44.
Axel Andersson would extend the lead to 5-2 off a wrist shot from the top of the circle. Kindopp iced the game by capping off his night with a hat trick to extend the lead to 6-2.
The large lead only raised the tensions late in regulation. The final 90 seconds featured multiple scrums as the rivals set their eyes on a 2022-23 season where both expect to compete for a Calder Cup championship.
"It is still the preseason but obviously every day you are trying to prove yourself still," Kindopp said. "New coaches, new faces so you want to leave a good impression obviously. We have a really deep team so […] I do what I can to stay in the lineup every night, but if the players are going to the right areas, you get some good bounces."