Gulls Reign Supreme in Ontario
Chris Wideman scores twice in the winNov 15, 2019
Chris Wideman recorded three points for the second straight game and Anthony Stolarz set a new career high with his sixth straight victory as the Gulls routed the Ontario Reign 6-2 at Toyota Arena. The Gulls improved to 6-1-0-0 in the month of November, outscoring teams 36-21 over that span.
“We have some high skilled players and they’re showing their wares right now” said head coach Kevin Dineen. “I think it’s a confidence thing as much as anything, we’re playing a confident game and we believe that we can score. We’re playing the right way and good results are following.”
The Gulls have made a habit of getting on the board early and they continued that positive trend tonight when Kiefer Sherwood scored 2:53 into the contest. Chris Wideman started the play by dishing a pass to Sherwood who took it out of the Gulls zone and into Reign territory untouched. Sherwood beat Ontario netminder Cal Petersen with a wrist shot from just inside the blue line to take an early lead.
Sherwood’s goal would wind up as the only score in the first period, but San Diego held a heavy advantage, outshooting Ontario 17-4 through 20 minutes of play. The 13-shot differential is the largest shot margin of any period this season with the 17 shots the most in a single period this season and the four against the fewest in a period this campaign.
Ontario’s struggles were largely due to their inability to stay out of the penalty box. After entering the second period with 2:33 of a Gulls power play remaining, Ontario’s Lance Bouma took a delay of game minor in an attempt to clear the puck. The penalty gave San Diego 33 seconds of a five-on-three man advantage.
The Gulls doubled their lead on the man advantage with their third power-play goal in their last two games. Stolarz began the sequence when he passed the puck to Justin Kloos from behind the net. Kloos took the puck down the ice and passed it across the Reign zone. Wideman fired another shot past Petersen’s glove and into the back of the net for his third power-play goal this season. Stolarz recorded the third helper of his career, marking the seventh assist by a goaltender in Gulls history (last: Kevin Boyle Apr. 12, 2019 at Tucson).
“I’m a big puck handler so I like to play the puck and sometimes it doesn’t go my way, but more times than not, it’s on our guys stick, making a good play,” said Stolarz. “I think it’s something that, as a goalie, is a huge asset. The guys do a great of communicating to me back there so it makes my job a lot easier.”
Later in the period, Blake Pietila took a two-minute high-sticking minor and San Diego brought on their penalty killing unit on the ice for their third test of the night. Ontario brought the score within one goal when Rasmus Kupari scored his third goal of the season on the man advantage. Mario Kempe and Sheldon Rempal added the assists on the power-play score at the 12:31 mark of the middle frame.
Defenseman Simon Benoit stopped any momentum that Ontario may have gained as he scored his second goal of the season just 1:39 later. Gulls captain Sam Carrick threw a big hit behind the net to give Gulls possession of the puck in the offensive zone. With a tic-tac-toe passing play from the blue line, Benoit ended up alone with the puck at the right faceoff dot. Benoit beat Petersen with a laser of a wrist shot to bring the score to 3-1.
Hunter Drew recorded the primary assist, the first helper of his AHL career. Chase De Leo picked up the other assist, marking his 100th career AHL assist and his third point (1G/2A) in his last two games. San Diego outshot Ontario 22-9 in the middle frame, the second consecutive period with a 13-shot margin and a new single-period high in 2019-20.
Sean Durzi opened up the third-period scoring as he picked up his first professional goal with a shot from the top of the faceoff circle 2:08 into the final frame. Bokondji Imama and Jacob Doty each tallied an assist on the score.
Once again, San Diego didn’t allow Ontario to build off momentum as Blake Pietila answered 1:46 after the Reign score. Daniel Sprong made the play possible when he ran into a Reign defender to knock the puck loose, creating a two-on-one rush. Alex Broadhurst got the puck and dished it across the ice to Blake Pietila for the score. With assists on the play, Broadhurst extended his point streak to five games (2-2=4) and Sprong now has three consecutive games with an assist (0-3=3).
Recently, San Diego’s penalty kill has been strong defensively, but also able to score goals. On their fourth penalty kill of the night, Carrick recorded his second shorthanded goal of the season after another wrist shot got past Petersen’s glove-side to tie a career high with goals in five straight games. . With the primary assist, Kloos now has 2-7=9 points in his last six games and passed Sherwood for the team lead in assists (8). Hakanpaa picked up his fifth assist of the past six games with a helper.
Carrick’s five-game goal streak (7-1=8) surpassed his previous mark set from Dec. 15-27, 2018 (6-2=8) and he now has 12 points his last nine games (8-4=12) to lead San Diego in scoring (8-5=13).
Following an elbowing minor by Imama, San Diego went on the power play once again, capitalizing for the second time tonight. Wideman fired off three consecutive shots, the first two of which were blocked. The third shot bounced off an Ontario defender and wound up in the back of the net at the 11:37 mark of the third period. Wideman is now tied for the league-lead with four power-play goals this season, and also co-leads AHL defensemen in goals (6). Benoit picked up an assist for his first multi-point game of his career (1G/1A).
The Gulls would close out the contest for a 6-2 win, outshooting the Reign 55-25 through three periods of play.
“You play for each other. It’s a team and these guys are playing for each other,” added Dineen. “I think that resonates pretty strongly with them. When we play the correct way, we feel like we can play with anybody. On an individual basis, I think we’ve seen some real growth in our players. Guys are really starting to understand their roles within the team. It adds up at the end of the night and good things are happening for us.”
The Gulls and Reign will conclude the home-and-home set tomorrow at Pechanga Arena San Diego (7 p.m.) when the Gulls host Star Wars Night. The team will don Star Wars-themed jerseys during warmups that will be available for auction via the DASH mobile app and on the concourse at the Community Relations table outside of Section 10 following the game.