Gulls Point Streak Ends In Loss To RoadrunnersMay 1, 2021
The San Diego Gulls point streak ended at five games tonight as they fell to the Tucson Roadrunners 9-2 at FivePoint Arena. The Gulls and Roadrunners split their eight-game season series, with each team going 4-4-0-0. Despite the setback, San Diego leads the Pacific Division in wins (23) and points (47) and leads the American Hockey League in goals (133).
"I don’t think the referees had anything to do with tonight," head coach Kevin Dineen said following the loss. "That, to me, is an easy out for our team. I thought we had a little cheat to our game tonight and it showed in the course of the play and it showed on the scoreboard, so no, we’re not hanging it on anybody but the people in the locker room, including myself."
Michael Carcone – a thorn in San Diego’s side all season – led all skaters with four points (0-4=4). Josh Wilkins collected a career-high three points (2-1=3) and Jan Jenik recorded his first career multi-goal game (2-1=3). Thirteen different Roadrunners recorded a point as Tucson set a new season high in goals.
Ivan Prosvetov matched his team’s offensive firepower with stellar goaltending, stopping 45 shots to record his eighth win of the season.
The nine goals against represent a new Gulls franchise record for the most goals allowed in a game, passing the seven allowed in Tucson on December 31, 2019. The seven-goal loss is the largest margin of defeat in San Diego’s franchise history, surpassing the six-goal differential on February 9, 2019 against the Bakersfield Condors.
The Gulls received chances to set the tone early, receiving three consecutive power-play chances before the game reached the 10-minute mark. San Diego couldn’t break through, with Prosvetov and the Roadrunners penalty kill holding them off the board.
Tucson turned the tide and capitalized on two late opportunities to bring a multi-goal lead into the first intermission.
Jenik opened the scoring, wiring a shot past Olle Eriksson Ek for a power-play goal with 2:57 remaining in the opening frame.
Tyler Steenbergen followed with ninth goal of the season, doubling Tucson's lead with just 26 seconds remaining in the period. The forward collected a pass from Carcone at the blue line, racing in alone on Eriksson Ek. His low wrist shot beat San Diego's netminder through the legs.
"It definitely was a difference maker," Dineen said while discussing the early power-play chances. "We had our opportunities in the first period and we gave up three-of-four out of four on the penalty kill and went zero-for-four (on the power play). A pretty big swing in the game when the game was still in doubt."
San Diego missed its chance to take momentum back early in the second period. Prosvetov misplayed a puck in his own end, leaving the net open as the Roadrunners scrambled to collect it. San Diego failed to capitalize, and the Roadrunners pulled away with five goals in the middle frame.
Josh Wilkins started the scoring barrage just 25 seconds into the middle frame, giving the Roadrunners a 3-0 lead. Wilkins had his initial bid in front stopped by Eriksson Ek, but stayed with it and chipped the rebound past San Diego's goalie for his second goal of the season.
Barrett Hayton grabbed his fourth goal of the season - a power-play tally - at 4:32 of the period. The center cut in front, deflecting a Carcone shot past Eriksson Ek to extend Tucson's lead to four.
The third assist marked a new single game high for Carcone, surpassing his previous mark of two.
Just 45 seconds later, Cameron Cotty pushed Tucson’s advantage to five. The rookie defenseman took a pass from Brayden Burke in the slot and fired his shot toward the net. The puck deflected off the stick of a San Diego defenseman and past Eriksson Ek for Cotty’s first AHL goal.
That ended the night for Eriksson Ek, who stopped 14-of-19 shots. It’s the first time this season the rookie netminder didn’t finish a game. Jeff Glass entered the game, taking the ice for the first time since March 20 at Tucson.
Wilkins greeted the veteran netminder with his second goal of the game at 10:40 of the period, deflecting a point shot from Carcone past Glass.
Kevin Hancock scored Tucson's fifth goal of the period - and seventh goal of the game - with 7:49 left in the middle frame. The left wing darted behind San Diego’s defense and sizzled a shot past Glass for his third goal of the season.
Alex Limoges provided a spark for the Gulls, scoring twice in 4:01 to start the third period.
The rookie recorded his sixth goal of the season just 33 seconds into the final frame, collecting a rebound off a Bryce Kindopp shot and shoveling it past Prosvetov to break up the shutout bid and extending his goal and point streaks to three games (3-1=4).
Limoges scored his second of the game with an impressive display of hand-eye coordination. Nikolas Brouillard accepted a backhand pass from Benoit-Olivier Groulx and carried the puck into the circle. His backhand shot deflected off a Tucson defenseman and the blocker of Prosvetov before finding Limoges near the post. The rookie swatted the puck out of midair and into an open net for his seventh goal of the season.
Groulx – who collected an assist on the San Diego's first goal – finished the weekend with five points (0-5=5) in two games. The rookie center is third among all first-year skaters in assists (16) and points (10-16=36).
"That line has been really good for us for a long stretch," Dineen said when discussing Limoges and his linemates, Groulx and Kindopp. "They play against the other teams’ top units and producing on the offensive side. They were certainly a bright spot for us tonight. They’ve really stood out in a positive way."
Tucson regained control as the game ticked down, scoring two more goals to pad their lead.
Jenik recorded his second goal of the game on the power play at 9:08 of the period. Ryan McGregor fired a shot toward net, and Jenik went crashing into Glass, forcing the puck past the Gulls netminder. The veteran exploded with anger when officials counted the goal, pushing the net off its moorings.
Former Gull Kevin Roy capped the scoring, snapping his 11th goal of the season past Glass with 6:26 remaining in regulation. The forward finished the season series leading all skaters in assists and points (3-10=13).
The loss dropped San Diego to third in the division by points percentage (.618). They trail Bakersfield (.621) and Henderson (.647) with six games remaining in the regular season.
San Diego opens a home-and-home series with the Ontario Reign, starting Wednesday at Toyota Sports Performance Center at 6 p.m. PT.