Brouillard, Printz Help Gulls Sweep Weekend Set In San JoseNov 20, 2021
By Paige Burnell/SanDiegoGulls.com
A spectacular defensive effort and standout performances from Nikolas Brouillard and Olle Eriksson Ek powered the San Diego Gulls past the San Jose Barracuda 2-1 to string together their first back-to-back victories of the season.
The win – their second straight one-goal win – gave the Gulls all four possible points in their two-game weekend road series against the Barracuda.
"I think last night we were able to close out the game with maturity, so tonight was the same challenge," Gulls assistant coach Max Talbot said. "You know, we got in the third and I think that we kinda did the same thing. You know we played the right way, we placed the puck behind the net and we want to play in the O-zone, right? But I think our details were starting to catch up and we’re doing good things out there."
Brouillard notched his second consecutive multi-point effort and Eriksson Ek stopped 22 of 23 shots he faced. The goaltender has a 1.61 goals against average, .944 save percentage and points (2-0-1-0) in his last three starts.
Brouillard broke the silence of the first period with a goal at 9:19 of the first period, simultaneously scoring his second goal of the year and stretching his point streak to three games.
After collecting a pass from Jacob Larsson, Brouillard hit the brakes and pulled the puck from his backhand to his forehand. The slight delay fooled San Jose's Adam Raska, who slid wide and opened a shooting lane. Brouillard didn't miss, wiring a wrist shot over the shoulder of Barracuda netminder Melnichuk for the goal.
Larsson earned his fifth assist of the season and stretched his assist streak to three games while Benoit-Olivier Groulx snagged his first helper of the season.
As the first period carried on, San Diego effectively clogged up the neutral zone and kept San Jose confined to their zone in the first period. This translated into even more offense for the Gulls, as Greg Printz capitalized on his team’s momentum and threw the proverbial scoring monkey off his back with his first goal of the season with 7:46 remaining in the opening period.
Brouillard collected another assist, bringing the defenseman’s point totals to 1-4=5 over the last three games. He leads Gulls defensemen in goals (2), assists (7) and points (9). Brouillard also leads the team with a +7 rating and ranks second on the team in scoring.
Over the last two games, the Gulls produced a great start and scored five first period goals while holding the Barracuda to zero tallies in the opening frame.
"It’s very important," Talbot said. "I thought we had a couple of chances in the first (where) we could have even been up one or two more goals. We hit a post with Buddy Robinson. So, we came out of the gate and I like that we’re growing as a team. We’re taking confidence and this weekend in general we talked about starts. Our starts were going to be very important and both games we had good starts and were able to close out games. Like I said, we’re taking steps in the right direction, it’s maturity and this weekend was good."
The Barracuda began the middle frame with a strong effort, with Scott Reedy scoring his second power-play goal of the weekend just 2:52 into the second.
However, the score stayed within one as Olle Eriksson Ek made several impressive saves and snuffed out any flicker of San Jose offense. Eriksson Ek helped the Gulls earn points in his last three starts (2-0-1-0) and this win marks his fourth straight against the Barracuda.
"Yeah, it’s key for us. I think these two goalies last year they took big strides," Talbot said. "I mean they were great for this team and this year again. They’re a big part of our success. And last night (Dostal) was great. Tonight, Olle made some timely saves and it’s very important for our team right now. I think it gives guys confidence and it’s great to see them play that way."
Joachim Blichfeld had a chance to tie it near the end of the game. With the Barracuda net empty, the puck found its way to his stick, where a wide-open net waited for the game-tying tally. Blichfeld couldn’t get the shot away, as the puck bounced over his stick and helped San Diego secure the victory.
"So we’re building habits and details in our game,” Talbot said. “And when you’re trying to get a good recipe out there and guys are starting to buy in and doing those little details, well you can feel good about it for these two days. Have a good day off tomorrow and get back to work for our next big week.”
The Gulls return home to the Pechanga Arena San Diego, opening a home series against these same Barracuda beginning Wednesday, Nov. 24 at 7 p.m. PT (TV: AHL TV; RADIO: Gulls Audio Network).