Alex Limoges Scores Late In Regulation, Pushing Gulls Past BarracudaJan 18, 2022
By AJ Manderichio/SanDiegoGulls.com
When the San Diego Gulls needed him the most, Alex Limoges made the difference.
The rookie forward scored the game-winning goal late in regulation as the Gulls sunk the San Jose Barracuda 4-2 tonight at SAP Center. Benoit-Olivier Groulx posted his first multi-point game of the season (1-1=2) as San Diego earned its fifth win over its division rivals. The Gulls won all three games at SAP Center and recorded points in four of their last five games overall (3-0-1-0).
Goaltender Francis Marotte picked up a second consecutive win, stopping a season-high 38 shots.
"It’s fun to see," Gulls assistant coach Daniel Jacob said about the team's young players. "They get rewarded. They had a good stretch the last few games. They have a really good opportunity to play, to log some minutes. For them it’s really to do it shift in and shift out the right way. Like I said, we had a slow start as a team, they were part of it, but we found our legs as the game went on. It’s always fun to see guys get rewarded for some hard plays."
Jake McGrew and Joachim Blichfeld scored for San Jose, who dropped its second consecutive game. Goaltender Sam Harvey allowed three goals on 22 shots.
The Barracuda grabbed the early lead, with McGrew collecting his fifth goal of the season at 9:26 of the opening frame.
An Evan Weinger shot went wide of the net, where Zachary Gallant crashed and collected the puck. He came to the side of the net and fed an open McGrew in front, who tapped the puck past Marotte for the game's first goal.
"We were kind of surprised by their speed a bit, especially on the forecheck," Groulx explained. "They were coming really hard at us and we couldn’t find a solution in the first period, but we’re a team with a lot of character and a lot of different players that can do the job. When we regrouped after the first period, we just said, ‘We’re good, we’ve just got to play our way - like chips pucks in, like go to the net.’ We’ve got to get them tired a bit and now it’s going to create some space and that’s what happened. We put a lot of pucks at the net, we were finishing all of our checks and that opened up a ton of space for us."
San Diego would see the results in the second period, scoring twice in an eight-minute span to grab its first lead of the game.
Trevor Carrick tied the game at one with his third goal of the season at 5:35 of the middle frame.
On an extended shift in San Jose's zone, Groulx pulled the puck from his forehand to his backhand, drawing the attention of three Barracuda players. He slid a cross-ice pass through their sticks, finding a wide-open Carrick as he snuck down from the point. The former Barracuda wound up and fired a slap shot past a screened Harvey for the equalizer.
Carrick now has goals in back-to-back games and three points (1-2=3) in his last two games.
Bryce Kindopp put San Diego ahead at 6:59 of the period.
Hunter Drew went to one knee at the blue line, keeping a clearing attempt in the San Jose end. He worked the puck to Lucas Elvenes, who cut toward the middle of the ice. Kindopp swung in behind him and the center found him, pushing the puck toward his teammate as he fell to the ice. Kindopp worked around his defenseman and across the crease, putting his shot through the legs of a sliding Harvey for his fourth goal of the season.
Drew continued his offensive surge, collecting his fourth point (3-1=4) in his last five games.
Blichfeld tied the game, converting on a 5-on-3 power-play with 10 seconds left in the middle frame.
The Barracuda right wing controlled the puck at the point, attempting to sneak his shot through the Gulls penalty kill. Groulx blocked his first attempt, but the puck went right back to Blichfeld, who floated one from the point past Marotte and into the top of the net for his 12th goal of the season.
Both Blichfeld and Jayden Halbgewachs, who earned an assist on the goal, lead the Barracuda with five points against San Diego this season.
As the Gulls pushed to take the lead, Harvey kept them at bay, denying Danny O’Regan with stellar glove save at 6:23 of the third period.
Limoges gathered a loose puck behind the net, finding an open O'Regan right in front. The center tried to sneak his shot glove side, but Harvey aggressively came to the top of the crease and snatched the shot with an emphatic glove save.
The Gulls penalty kill would match his effort, stepping up in the period to eliminate an extended 5-on-3 Barracuda power play. The three-man unit of Groulx, Kindopp and Nikolas Brouillard limited the Barracuda chances while Marotte made three key stops to keep the score tied at two.
"I felt we needed a timeout here on the first five-on-three (penalty kill)," Jacob said. "We looked lost a little bit, so I just wanted to make sure that everybody would be on the same page. Yeah, they responded really well. Frankie (Marotte) in net made some big saves, but I thought the structure was good. And we didn’t give them so many good looks. I think it gave us a lot of momentum to finish the game on the right note."
The momentum swung following the kill, and the Gulls took advantage to grab the win with Limoges’ sixth goal of the season with 3:39 left in regulation.
Greg Printz fooled everyone, faking a dump-in at the San Jose blue line before carrying the puck into the offensive zone. He fed the puck to a streaking Limoges, who patiently worked the puck around a charging Harvey and into the back of the net for game-winning goal.
"Me and Limo talked a lot, especially at the start of the season when he wasn’t getting the points that wanted to have and Limo’s a great player," Groulx said. "He’s really, really creative offensively. He’s going to find out the open spots out there and I think today he showed that. He played a great game. His goal is terrific, he had a lot of poise, he figured [out the] goalie, went around him and just put it in so I thought that was good. It showed a lot of confidence from him and a lot of poise so I’m really happy to see him back doing the stuff that he was doing last year."
San Jose refused to go quietly, earning its sixth – and final – power play chance shortly after the Gulls took the lead. The Gulls would handle the opportunity, with Marotte denying a deflection chance early in the kill to keep the Barracuda off the board.
Groulx would ice the victory, hitting the empty net with just three seconds left for San Diego’s fourth and final goal.
The Gulls head to Stockton to face the division-leading Heat tomorrow night at 6:30 p.m. PT. San Diego is looking for a second straight win over their division rival, beating back the Heat on Jan. 7 at Pechanga Arena.
"It’s going to be a tough game," Groulx said. "I remember the first two games we played against Stockton. It was a fast-paced game. Obviously, they have one of the best teams in the league, if not the best team so we’re going to have to be prepared. We need a better start than we had today, but I think we’re ready. We had a great game against them at home last time and I think if we do that again, we’re going to be fine."