Offense Finds No Drought In Desert Domination Of RoadrunnersOct 29, 2021
By Paige Burnell/SanDiegoGulls.com
The San Diego Gulls got their groove back tonight in a 5-1 victory over the Tucson Roadrunners that saw them earn them their first win of the season.
Not only were the Gulls fueled by an already stellar power play that continued to shine and a standout performance from Alex Limoges, but from the best display of possession, offensive pressure and forechecking the Gulls have produced all season.
“Well, I think we’ve talked about working hard this week,” Head Coach Joel Bouchard said. “You asked me if we were going to be better and I said ‘I hope so.’ I know we got better during the week, but you never know how it’s going to translate in game. I thought we were obviously better. That’s the standard. I’m not going for lower than that. I’m already thinking about tomorrow. We have still a lot of work to do with a new group, but I like the effort more than anything else and engagement.”
The first period started off slowly for the Gulls as the Roadrunners were awarded the first power play of the game and were able to build pressure in the Gulls’ zone. This cumulated into a backhanded shot from Liam Kirk finding its way into the net with mere seconds remaining in the Roadrunner’s man advantage at 8:37 of the first period.
The Gulls responded less than two minutes later after Alex Limoges forced a turnover, allowing his line to post themselves in Tucson’s zone. Jacob Perreault put the puck on net and through the ensuing scrum, Limoges slid the rebound past Josef Korenar to get his second goal of the season. Perreault and Danny O’Regan both earned their second assists of the year on the play.
“We really just played a team game. We obviously didn’t get off to the good start we wanted this season, but I think the boys really rallied around each other, came together as a team,” Jack Badini said. “Playing on your own is always difficult and I think we really dominated especially that period like you said. So, it was really nice to see the boys come together and put a real solid effort in tonight.”
The second period kicked off with a Gulls power play and despite the fact the team couldn’t convert on it, the momentum established set the stage for the Gulls to dominate the middle frame.
The Gulls had wave after wave of sustained pressure in the Roadrunners zone, which translated into Jack Badini netting his first goal of his AHL career, and what would be the game-winning goal, off of another mishandled rebound by Korenar. Brayden Tracey got an assist and the same goes for Greg Pateryn, who simultaneously got his first point as a Gull.
“Yeah, it was fun for him,” Bouchard said. “It was a big goal and it’s always fun to have your first in any league you play. He was well deserved. He’s a hard-working kid. He listens. He wants to do well, like a lot of young guys. My job is to push them, like I told them it’s going to be hard sometimes, but you’re going to get rewarded. Some of them got rewarded tonight and he’s one of them. That’s fun to see.”
The Roadrunners were then awarded another power play, but this time, the Gulls penalty kill benefitted them instead of harming them, and the team retained so much possession that they soon forced the Roadrunners to take a penalty of their own.
The power play has been a bright spot in the Gulls game, and that was the case again as Alex Limoges scored his second goal of the night on the man advantage, with helpers from Kodie Curran and Bryce Kindopp.
The Gulls have now scored a power play goal in four consecutive games and it ranks tied for second in the AHL at 33.3% (5/15).
“Well, you invest as a group during the week and you put standard and this is what I’m all about right now, “Bouchard said. “Put in the standard way higher on everything. On details and investment into play and structure and so, obviously if you’re gonna push the guys to do it and they have results, then it’s always…they got the result on what we worked on. If you were to get result on, you know, a different way then you’re like we’re still getting away from the process. So, I think today we took a step in the right direction, but, trust me, I’m still very aware that there’s a lot of work.”
The Gulls outshot the Roadrunners 19-5 in the second period, but his didn’t stop the Roadrunners from putting up an impressive effort to come back in the third. However, the Gulls were able to stifle any offensive surges from their opponent and add to their own goal tally.
“Less doubt. Less heels, more toes. And investment from everybody,” Bouchard said. “A lot of the stuff we worked on is, and I mean we still have a lot to work on, trust me as a coach, but we managed the puck better. We were more intense into battle. There was more investment and your glad that the guys get rewarded for it. Again, it’s our fourth game of the year. I told you it’s gonna take time. So I’m not gonna start jumping up and down. We have won one game, but we have more to win.”
Jacob Larsson took a shot from the blueline off of a pass from Kindopp and Sam Carrick deflected the puck in with a well-placed stick at 8:24 of the third. Carrick earned his first goal and point of the season, while Kindopp earned his second assist of the night for his first multi-point effort on the year.
To provide even more insurance, Perreault made the score 5-1 at 14:14 of the third for his second goal of the year and second point of the night. Mason McTavish, who was playing in his debut game with the Gulls, got his first assist on the final goal of the game. This goal was prime example of the Gulls reaping the benefits of their forecheck.
“That’s something that we know, as a team, when we’re playing our best, we’re playing physically so I think the fans saw that tonight for sure. It generates offense, right? So, we get in on the forecheck and we use our bodies and it generated a lot of offense for us tonight.”
The Gulls look to sweep the second game of this back-to-back series tomorrow at Tucson Arena (7 p.m. PT; TV: AHL TV; RADIO: Gulls Audio Network).
“Like I said, we took a step today,” Bouchard said. “AHL is tough, you go back against the same team so I’m expecting them to come pretty hard at us tomorrow in their own building. So I want to see how we’re going to be able to be even better in some detail towards a bigger pressure. I’m expecting them to put a lot of pressure on us.”