Gulls Win Streak Ends at FiveJan 21, 2020
The Gulls five-game win streak came to an end as they fell 3-1 to the Tucson Roadrunners Tuesday night at Pechanga Arena San Diego. Despite the setback, San Diego has earned standings points in six of its last eight games (5-2-0-1) and nine of its previous 13 contests (7-4-1-1).
“We feel that we just missed an opportunity,” said Gulls head coach Kevin Dineen. “Things have been rolling along pretty good. We ran up a few road bumps early and we pushed back fairly well at different points of the game, but not enough to make a difference.”
The Gulls also negated all four of the Roadrunners power plays and have now killed 33 of the last 34 penalties (97.1%), including a season-high 19 straight, dating to Jan. 10.
“Sylvain Lefebvre does a fabulous job with our penalty kill,” added Dineen. “He’s very studious. I think he really works on the details of the game. He studies our opponents quite well. I find that when you watch our games, whether it’s live or on tape, our work ethic is through the roof when we’re killing penalties. They take a lot of pride in it and it makes a difference in the outcome.”
Right wing Daniel Sprong scored San Diego’s only goal to extend his point streak to three games (1-2=3) and has now earned 4-6=10 points over his last 10 games played. Defenseman Simon Benoit added an assist and now has three assists (0-3=3) and a +4 rating in four games against Tucson this season.
Tucson got on the board first when rookie forward Kevin Hancock scored his third goal of the season with 4:39 remaining in the first period. Hancock corralled a loose puck along the boards and raced down the ice on an odd-man rush. His short-side wrist shot found the back of the net, giving the Roadrunners a 1-0 lead going into the second period.
The opening 20 minutes of play was a defensive standoff as each team only recorded six shots on net. San Diego held Tucson to no shots on net until the 9:23 mark of the opening period. The combined 12 shots on net marked the lowest in the first period of a Gulls game this season.
The Roadrunners extended the lead to two just 2:10 into the second period on a goal by Hudson Fasching. Tyler Steenbergen was able to play the puck to Fasching after winning a battle along the boards. The winger fired a wrist shot past Gulls netminder Kevin Boyle for his 15th score of the season.
Tucson scored another goal 4:42 later to make it 3-0. Steenbergen sent a cross-ice pass to Blake Speers, but in his attempt to get to the other side of the net, Boyle lost his footing. Speers threw a shot at the net and Boyle was unable to recover, resulting in a third unanswered score by the Roadrunners.
Following the conclusion of a cross-checking penalty, Sprong exited the penalty box and scored on a wrister with 9:24 left in the middle stanza to cut the lead to 3-1. Max Comtois entered the Roadrunners zone to the left of Sprong on a two-on-one, but Sprong elected to shoot the puck and converted on Adin Hill’s glove side. Benoit created the opportunity when he cleared the puck down the boards to Sprong, adding the lone assist on the goal.
“I saw the two-on-one, the defense took away [Comtois] and I saw the glove-side and I just made sure I hit the net,” said Sprong.
San Diego had a pair of scoring chances late in the period, but Hill came up with saves on both opportunities. Tucson carried a 3-1 lead through 40 minutes of play, but San Diego held a 21-16 lead in shots.
The Gulls nearly scored with 6:28 left in the final frame, but Hill came up with the save again on Justin Kloos, a save of the year candidate. Chris Wideman faked a slapshot from the right board in the Roadrunners zone and passed it to Kloos in the crease. Hill slammed his stick down across the goal line and stopped Kloos’ shot attempt to keep the score 3-1.
“We just didn’t capitalize on our looks,” added Sprong. “We had some really good chances. He made some big saves, we have to give him credit for that, but I thought our offensive looks were there. Of course, we wanted to get more, but our first period needed to be better.”
San Diego pulled Boyle with 2:20 remaining in the third period, but managed just one shot on goal with the extra attacker. Tucson held on to win 3-1 behind a 39 save-performance by Hill.
“It’s tough to score goals in this league,” said Alex Broadhurst. “They’re a good team too, so they play a good defensive style so it was a challenge. I liked our push back at the end and I thought our second half of the game was way better than the first. We showed a lot of character there. Boyle kept us in it the whole game, but it’s just one of those games you just can’t come out with a win. We were happy with the ending there and the way we played to try and battle back.”
San Diego will embark on a two-game road trip to visit the Grand Rapids Griffins at Van Andel Arena on Friday, Jan. 24 and Saturday, Jan. 25 (both 4 p.m. PT).