Gulls Dominate Barracuda With Seven-Goal Performance In Homestand FinaleApr 3, 2021
The San Diego Gulls capped a perfect four-game homestead (4-0-0-0) with a 7-3 win over the San Jose Barracuda tonight at FivePoint Arena. With the win, San Diego extended its win streak to six games (6-0-0-0). The Gulls lead the American Hockey League in home wins (12), points (24) and goals scored (54). In addition, San Diego leads the league in total goals (80).
Chase De Leo led the Gulls attack, posting his second three-point (1-2=3) effort of the season. Jacob Perreault (1-1=2), Vinni Lettieri (0-2=2), Andrew Poturalski (0-2=2) and Brendan Guhle (0-2=2) also recorded multi-point nights in the seven-goal outburst. The Gulls scored at least seven goals in back-to-back games for the first time in club history.
“It’s been awesome,” defenseman Keegan Lowe said. “You see the contributions from all up and down the lineup. The power play has been good and the penalty kill has been good and those are two things you’ve always got to focus on, especially in the home stretch here. It’s good to see everyone get in on the action a little bit.”
With three power-play goals on the night, San Diego converted seven times with the man-advantage in the last four games (6-for-21, 28.6%).
Rookie netminder Olle Eriksson Ek stopped 31-of-34 Barracuda shots to earn his fifth consecutive win. Eriksson Ek ranks fifth among AHL goaltenders in save percentage (.925) and sixth in goals against average (2.03).
“He’s been awesome for us,” Chase De Leo explained. “He’s been huge. It’s not easy probably for him, being out of the lineup, backing up and then all of a sudden being forced to start. He was solid back there for us tonight. I know I had one pretty big turnover up the middle and he saved my butt on that, so I made sure to give him a tap. He said that’s what he’s there for. All things are going good right now and it starts with him, for sure.”
San Jose opened the scoring midway through the first period as a bad bounce for San Diego ended up as a goal for the visitors. After holding the puck in at the Gulls blue line, Brinson Pasichnuk fired a shot towards the goal that deflected off a San Diego defender in front and directly to Maxim Letunov for the first goal of the night.
San Diego answered late in the opening frame with an energetic shift from the fourth line leading to the game-tying goal. The Gulls kept the puck deep in the offensive zone before it eventually came free to Brendan Guhle at the point. Guhle’s shot deflected to Matt Lorito, who had his initial bid blocked behind the net. Hunter Drew fed the veteran forward with an aerial pass from behind the net, and Lorito corralled it and slapped his attempt past Josef Korenar his third goal of the season, pulling San Diego even with 2:31 left in the first period.
The Barracuda reclaimed the lead with a power-play goal in the second period. After a Gulls neutral zone turnover, Lean Bergmann set up Alexander True, giving the Barracuda a 2-1 lead at the 7:47 mark of the middle frame.
San Diego’s captain, Sam Carrick, continued his hot streak to even the scoring a few minutes later. De Leo poked the puck away from a Barracuda defender and Carrick found it first, beating Korenar with a forehand move to even the score at the 12:15 mark of the second period.
The Gulls took their first lead of the night in the final minute of the second period, scoring a power-play tally off of pinpoint passing. San Diego worked around the perimeter of the zone looking for a shooting lane as the puck came to Poturalski, who spotted Lettieri on the backdoor. Lettieri wasted no time, immediately zipping a feed of his own to De Leo, who tipped it past Korenar to put the Gulls ahead 3-2 with 22 seconds still to play in the second.
“It’s nice to get a little chemistry on the power-play unit,” De Leo said. “Usually everyday there are new guys, new bodies getting called up or sent down. We’ve had the same group for the last few games and it’s nice to be clicking. Obviously, a good play by Lettieri to find me backdoor for the tap-in. Those are the best.”
San Diego went back to work in third period, doubling the lead just two minutes into the final frame. Lowe notched the insurance goal, powering a slap shot by Korenar for his second goal of the season. The goal also marked Lowe’s 100th career AHL point.
“It felt pretty good,” Lowe said. “It was a great play by Bo [Groulx] and there was traffic in front so I just got it on net and was lucky enough to have it go in. It felt good.”
Kodie Curran extended the San Diego advantage to three with a power-play goal at the 11:54 mark of the third period. De Leo notched the primary assist, setting up Curran for a wrist shot that the veteran defender snapped past Korenar for his fourth goal of the season. With the goal, Curran extended his point streak to four games (2-3=5).
Andrew Agozzino kept the San Diego offensive onslaught rolling as the Gulls once again took advantage of a power-play opportunity. Skating in his first game since returning from an upper-body injury, Perreault located Agozzino alone in front of the net and hit him with a perfect pass, setting up the first-year Gulls forward for a tap-in goal. Agozzino owns a four-game point streak (2-2=4) and points in nine of his last 10 appearances (6-3=9).
Three minutes later, Perreault raced down left wing and roofed a backhand shot over Korenar’s shoulder to extend San Diego’s lead to 7-2 with 1:25 remaining in regulation. With 1-1=2 points, Perreault earned his first career multi-point performance.
The 2020 first-round pick owns 2-4=6 points in his 12 career AHL games.
The Barracuda added a late-goal from Joel Kellman with 26 seconds left in the third period.
With the win, San Diego improved to 32-17-4-1 all-time against San Jose, including 16-11-2-0 on home ice.
San Diego travels to Ontario tomorrow to take on the rival Reign at Toyota Sports Performance Center (3 p.m.).
“We’ll get together, get on the bus, head up towards LA and take care of business versus Ontario,” head coach Kevin Dineen said. “It’s a big game for us. We understand the standings are a little odd this year. There are a lot of teams who haven’t played as many games as us. We know we’ve got keep our winning percentage up. We’ve had some success against Ontario and we want that to continue. Our road record is starting to trend in the right direction. A lot of good things for our team right now, we just need to go out and do it.”