Gulls Extend Win Streak To Four GamesMar 27, 2021
The San Diego Gulls extended their win streak to four games with a 2-1 victory over the Tucson Roadrunners tonight at FivePoint Arena. With the win, the Gulls improved to 10-3-0-0 on home ice, leading the AHL in home wins (10) and home points (20).
San Diego’s third line provided the offense as Alex Limoges (0-2=2), Matt Lorito (1-1=2) and Hunter Drew (1-1=2) recorded multi-point efforts in the win.
Rookie netminder Olle Eriksson Ek stopped 25-of-26 Tucson shots to earn his fourth straight victory. Eriksson Ek ranks tied for third among rookie goaltenders in goals-against-average (2.02, min. 5 games played) and fourth in save percentage (.927, min. 5 games played).
"I think our goaltending has been solid all year," head coach Kevin Dineen said. "Olle has found himself an opportunity and he’s running with it. He looks big. He looks solid. I’ve used a lot of adjectives for him. We’re very happy with his performance. We got run over a bit in the second period. They had a wave coming at us and we didn’t respond very well but our goaltending was rock solid."
Former Gulls forward Kevin Roy opened the scoring with a power-play goal late in the first period. After a scramble in front of the net in which Eriksson Ek made several saves, the puck eventually bounced to Roy, who slipped it through traffic to give Tucson a 1-0 lead with 1:28 left in the opening frame.
Despite allowing the goal, Eriksson Ek made two dazzling saves in the first period.
The rookie netminder passed an early test, making a stellar glove save on Kevin Hancock's shot from the slot at 4:51 of the first. The center pounced on an errant pass, picking up the puck with no Gulls in sight. He fired a quick snap shot on Eriksson Ek, who aggressively came to the top of his crease to glove away the scoring chance.
Just before San Diego went shorthanded, Eriksson Ek came up with another great save, sliding across his crease to deny Cameron Hebig's one-timed shot.
Much like in Friday night’s win over Bakersfield, San Diego’s defensemen playing forward factored in offensively, as Drew evened the score midway through the second period.
Lorito skated into the offensive zone with possession and spotted Drew alone in the slot, where the big defenseman-turned-forward snapped a wrist shot past Connor LaCouvee for his third goal of the season.
"He made a nice play coming up the ice," Lorito explained. "He got it to me in the middle. I was originally thinking just to get a shot. I was kind of one-on-one with the defense. He was coming up behind me and yelled for the puck so I kind of just took my time and drew the defense in a little bit. I saw Drew was wide open coming right down the slot and just zipped him a pass. He did the rest, made a nice shot. It was a good play."
Limoges collected his second career assist on the goal. The former Penn State captain has 0-3=3 points in his first two career AHL games.
Tucson nearly reclaimed the lead in the final minutes of the middle frame, but Eriksson Ek denied Michael Carcone’s breakaway bid to keep the score level headed to the third period.
The Gulls finally broke the deadlock with just over eleven minutes to play in regulation. Drew and Limoges combined to cause a Roadrunners turnover in the Gulls offensive zone. Limoges got to the loose puck and set up Lorito, who quickly fired a shot over LaCouvee’s blocker, giving San Diego its first and final lead of the game.
The goal marked Lorito’s 15th career game-winning goal.
"I was really happy with him," Dineen said. "He’d been a healthy scratch a few games in a row. There’s not a lot you ask about a guy where in that situation, but when you’re first on the ice for practice and the last to leave, you’re making a statement that you want in the lineup. He’s demanding a spot. Good response by Matty."
With assists on the game-winner, Limoges and Drew each registered their first career multi-point game.
The Roadrunners fought to find the tying goal in the game’s final minutes, but could not beat Eriksson Ek as San Diego held on for 2-1 win.
The Gulls continue their homestand Wednesday, Mar. 31 (7 p.m.) with a matchup against the rival Ontario Reign.