Gulls Come Back, Win 5-2 Over BarracudaJan 11, 2023
By Brett Pickler/SanDiegoGulls.com
The San Diego Gulls defeated the San Jose Barracuda 5-2 tonight at Pechanga Arena San Diego.
Both teams started the game cautiously, not wanting to allow a quick goal. Players elected to dump the puck in at the blue line to establish their forecheck. Despite the slow start, it did allow for both teams to throw their body around and land big hits. The Barracuda managed to regain the puck and sent it to the point. Defenseman Darren Brady gathered the puck and walked the line shooting the puck towards the net. As the puck reached the top of the crease, it was deflected by left wing Jeffrey Viel to give San Jose a 1-0 lead on the first shot of the game. San Jose extended their lead at the 12:44 mark when left wing William Eklund flew down the ice, attacking on an odd-man rush. He made his way to the hashmarks and wristed a puck five-hole making it 2-0.
Goaltender Lukas Dostal proved why he was selected to the American Hockey League All-Star Classic in the opening frame. He stopped 12 out of 14 shots, helping his team kill two penalties and keep the score low. His best saves of the period came when he denied San Jose’s leading goal scorer, Thomas Bordeleau, on a breakaway and then immediately kicked his leg out to stop the rebound chance.
"It's not acceptable," Rocco Grimaldi said about the team's play in the first period. "It's basically all that was said. It was ugly and it could have been a lot worse than 2-0 tonight. That could’ve been six out there to be honest. Dos (Gulls goaltender Lukas Dostal) made some awesome saves like he always does. So, held us in the game and it's good to get two points here."
The Gulls entered the second period looking to cut into the Barracuda’s lead. They started to shoot the puck more, in order to generate more chances around the net. This aggressive style paid off for San Diego when right wing Pavol Regenda found the back of the net just over two minutes into the period. He received a cross-ice pass as the Gulls attacked 3-on-2. Regenda quickly settled the puck and shot it on goal, squeaking through the pads of goaltender Eetu Makiniemi.
As the period progressed, each team started to throw their bodies around. Tempers reached a boiling point when center Glenn Gawdin took exception to a hit. He squared off with Eklund and the two exchanged haymakers. Gawdin caught Eklund and took him to the ice to the roar of the crowd.
"I think the big thing is from the start of the first shift," head coach Roy Sommer said regarding the team's change of pace in the second period. "We had Drew was out there with Kindopp and Howe and they had a couple of big hits. They had a little bit of zone time. They had a good chance and it kind of got us going. Then Gawdin stepped in and had a big hit, got in a fight. Kind of the momentum should start changing towards us."
Following the fight, San Diego went on the power play with a chance to even the score. They controlled the puck looking for the right opportunity to attack the net. Their chance came when left wing Brayden Tracey received the puck at the top of the circle. He delivered a shot-pass to center Benoit-Olivier Groulx on the backdoor who redirected the puck into the net leveling the score at two apiece.
With a tie game heading into the final frame, the intensity increased from both teams. This higher pace did lead to multiple penalties, giving each team a chance to take the lead. San Diego went on the kill early, but the play of Dostal helped keep the game even. He faced a bombardment of shots from the slot, turning each opportunity away to keep his team in the game.
The Gulls generated multiple chances in the third period. Their first came from a strong play by Regenda to muscle his way around a defender and get a partial breakaway from the hashmarks. Shortly after, right wing Jacob Perreault cut to the net and nearly gave San Diego the lead but was caught before he could bring the puck to his backhand.
San Diego continued to pressure San Jose and their efforts were rewarded at the 15:57 mark of the period. Grimaldi skated down the boards looking to drive the net. He was forced behind the net but managed to slide a puck towards the slot. Left wing Hunter Drew recognized the play and headed to the slot where he buried the go-ahead goal.
Although San Diego had a 3-2 lead in the last few minutes of the game, closing it out proved to be difficult. The Gulls conceded a penalty with 2:20 left in the game. The Barracuda used this opportunity to pull their goalie to create a 6-on-4 power play. San Jose pressured the Gulls hard but could not break through San Diego’s penalty killers. Grimaldi eventually put home two empty net goals to ice the game and give the Gulls a 5-2 victory.
In tonight’s game, the Gulls’ penalty kill was perfect, killing all six penalties they conceded. Their power play produced one goal on three opportunities. This now marks three straight games with a goal on the man advantage. Additionally, defenseman Michael Del Zotto extended his point streak to four games with an assist.