Gulls Triumph In Tucson

Slavin Sets Franchise AHL Record In Overtime Win Over Tucson

Mar 3, 2023

By AJ Manderichio/

There’s something about overtime that brings out the best in the San Diego Gulls.

The team’s success after regulation continued tonight in Tucson with a 3-2 overtime win over the Roadrunners at Tucson Convention Center.

Josiah Slavin scored the game-winning tally, part of a 1-1=2 point performance. It marks the second consecutive multi-point contest for the center. Chase De Leo (1-1=2) and Michael Del Zotto (0-2=2) added multi-point games for the Gulls, who received 29 saves from goaltender Gage Alexander in the win.

"I think if you really look back at it, our last three games have been pretty good," Gulls head coach Roy Sommer said. "I mean, you take the Ontario game and even the game against Henderson, I thought we played real well. You take tonight...I hate to say too little, too late, but hopefully not. We're actually starting to look like a team. I think we're playing a 200-foot game, we're above pucks. Guys are humpin' on pucks and stopping, and we're not giving up the big chances like we were a month or so ago. Things are coming around."

Michael Carcone and Cameron Hebig tallied goals for Tucson, who dropped back-to-back contests and could see their hold on the Pacific Division’s seventh and final playoff spot drop to three points with a San Jose Barracuda win tonight.

San Diego established possession in the extra session, with Slavin winning the faceoff back to Del Zotto. The defenseman slowly carried the puck down to his own goal line before moving it, finding De Leo out near the blue line. The Gulls captain quickly moved it across the ice to Slavin, who took the puck and carried it into the offensive zone. He used Tucson’s Will Reilly, snapping a shot through the defenseman’s legs and by a screened Ivan Prosvetov to end the game just 15 seconds into overtime.

"We came back with speed on the breakout and I had a lot of speed coming (in), just trying to use that d-man as a screen, and luckily the muffin went in," Slavin joked after the game.

The tally marks the quickest goal in San Diego’s American Hockey League history to start an overtime, besting Jamie Drysdale’s game-winning tally just 17 seconds into overtime on Feb. 14, 2021 against the Colorado Eagles. Slavin is averaging a point-per-game in his four contests with the Gulls (2-2=4), and nearly matched his goal total in his previous 51 games with the Rockford IceHogs.

"I'll tell you what, he's a hockey player," Sommer said. "He gets after pucks, he's first on pucks and kind of relentless out there. I know if I was player, I'd want to play with him. He's always above it, has a pretty good mind and, you know, he's scored a couple of big goals for us."

The two teams battled for goals in a tight matchup, ending regulation tied at two.

Carcone scored the only goal of the opening frame, collecting his 26th tally with under six minutes remaining in the period. He ends the night atop the AHL leaderboard with 26-40=66 points. In addition, he leads all skaters in the season series, collecting 4-5=9 points against San Diego this season.

The Gulls roared back in the middle period, scoring twice in 38 seconds to grab their first lead.

Josh Lopina opened the quick-strike offense, picking up his second goal of the season at 4:06 of the frame. Del Zotto held the puck at the point, sending a cross-ice pass to Brent Gates Jr. The forward curled from the blue line down the side boards, lifting his head to see Lopina spin away from his man and find open space in the slot. A backhand pass set Lopina up for the one-timed shot and he did the rest, beating Prosvetov to tie the game.

"If you look at the one line, (Josh) Lopina, (Brent) Gates (Jr.) and (Bryce) Kindopp, that line, since we put them together in the Ontario game, I think they've been one of our better forechecking lines, and they finally scored tonight," Sommer said. "We had some secondary scoring."

De Leo continued his hot streak at 4:44 of the period, collecting his seventh goal of the season to put San Diego ahead. He took a pass from Pavol Regenda and patiently outwaited the Tucson defenseman, who slid by the Gulls captain trying to block a shot. The La Mirada, CA native calmly reloaded and whipped his shot past Prosvetov to stretch his point streak to eight games.

The tally also marked De Leo’s 52nd in a Gulls sweater, moving him past Kalle Kossila for the third most goals in the team’s AHL history.

Hebig brought the game even at two near the 10-minute mark of the second with his seventh goal of the season.

The Gulls penalty kill forced overtime, killing off Tucson’s third-period opportunity. With Olli Juolevi in the box serving a cross-checking minor penalty, the Gulls allowed just one shot. Since Dec. 22, they’ve killed 10-of-11 Roadrunners power-play chances.

The game also featured the debut of new Gull Dylan Sikura, who the Anaheim Ducks assigned after acquiring him yesterday for Max Golod. He finished the night with a plus-one rating and four shots on net, skating on a line with Glenn Gawdin and Brayden Tracey.

"You know, for everything he's gone through - he got traded, and then came from Toronto," Sommer said. "New equipment, gloves and pants and everything else. His sticks didn't show up (un)til late. For everything he went through, I thought he played a pretty good hockey game. Had some pretty good looks. He's a guy that...he's a shooter. You can tell when he's out there, he's kind of shifty and, you know, kind of shoots the puck from all over the place. You don't score 33 goals or whatever he got last year and not be someone that has a nose for the net."

The two teams will finish this back-to-back series tomorrow at Tucson Convention Center. Puck drop is 6 p.m. PT on AHL TV and the Gulls Audio Network.

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