By Thomas Harrington
This past Saturday night, the San Diego Gulls’ season came to an end as they lost 2-0 and were defeated in five games. San Diego’s lone win in the series came back in game one. After getting the split in San Jose, things were looking good for the Gulls, but two things doomed them in this series: special teams and injuries. San Jose scored seven times with the man advantage, while the Gulls only struck twice with the extra man, including failing on a five minute major power play in the third period of game five. On the injury front, both Nick Sorensen and Max Gortz were lost to injury during the series; Corey Tropp, Emerson Etem, and Ryan Garbutt missed the entire series; and of course, Shea Theodore, Brandon Montour, and Ondrej Kase were in Anaheim.
Game three was arguably San Diego’s best game of the series, and it was definitely their best start. In the first period, the Gulls held an 11-3 shot advantage and Max Jones scored his first career professional goal to give San Diego the lead. However, less than a minute later, Kevin Labanc tied the game up and the period ended with the teams tied at one. In my mind, this is the period where the Gulls lost the series. They played their best 20 minutes of hockey but were only able to skate away with a tie. If the Gulls had a commanding lead after that period, they likely win the game and are heading back to San Jose for a game six. In the second, both teams had several high quality chances and both goalies were tested often. Sam Carrick scored the only goal of the period, giving the Gulls a 2-1 lead. However, about halfway through the third, Colin Blackwell tied the game up. With less than five minutes to go in the third, Spencer Abbott put the Gulls back on top, with Jones picking up the assist, his second career professional point. Unfortunately, San Diego wasn’t able to hold the lead and Daniel O’Regan tied the game with a minute left in regulation. Overtime was a back and forth affair, but Timo Meier scored the gamewinner with only a couple minutes left in the first overtime period. This game was a huge missed opportunity for the Gulls. They played their best game of the series, but weren’t able to hold the lead three times. By winning this game, San Jose took back home ice advantage. With two more games left in San Diego, the Gulls still had a chance to go back to San Jose with a lead in the series.
After their best game of the series, San Diego played their second worst game of the series. The Barracuda scored twice in the first period to take a 2-0 lead. The second period started much the same way, and San Jose built their lead to 3-0, before Mitch Hults, playing in his first Calder Cup playoff game, scored his first career playoff goal to make it 3-1. However, San Jose wasn’t done and made it 4-1 before the period was over. Early in the third, San Diego showed signs of life, as Nic Kerdiles scored a powerp lay goal just a few minutes into the period. From there, San Diego kept pushing and were finally rewarded with a goal, as Carrick made it 4-3. Unfortunately, he scored with less than 20 seconds left in the game and the Gulls weren’t able to get the tying goal in the game’s dying seconds.
Facing a 3-1 series deficit with game five at home, the Gulls wanted to extend the series and head back to San Jose, but they were unable to get the job done. San Diego came out firing in the first period and had all kinds of pressure, but Troy Grosenick was equal to the task. The only scoring of the period came off an odd man rush for San Jose, as Barclay Goodrow put the Barracuda up 1-0. The second period followed a similar script, as Grosenick was able to stop everything the Gulls threw his way. San Jose scored the only goal of the period, this one on the power play. In the third, the Gulls had some chances, but were unable to connect. A scary moment happened in the third when Stu Bickel’s head was hit into the glass.. He had to be helped off the ice. The Gulls went on a five minute power play, but were unable to get anything going on their extended man advantage.
While the series loss is disappointing, given the amount of talent out of the lineup, it ultimately wasn’t a huge surprise. With the Sharks out, the Barracuda had a full complement of players while the Gulls were without several key contributors. The Gulls battled hard throughout this series, but came up short in the end. Despite the loss, San Diego’s second season was definitely a successful one. Anaheim has a lot of young talent in their system, and San Diego should have another strong season next season. In this series, Jones, Kerdiles, and Kevin Roy all showed why they are some of Anaheim’s better forward prospects. Of the three, Jones will likely be back in juniors next season, and Kerdiles will hopefully be Anaheim bound, but Roy should be one of San Diego’s offensive leaders next season.
Earlier today, it was announced that the Ducks had signed Josh Mahura to a three-year entry level contract. Mahura, along with fellow Anaheim prospect Sam Steel, played for the Regina Pats and they were just eliminated in from the WHL playoffs. Between Regina and Red Deer this past season, Mahura scored 17 goals and 53 points in 73 games. In the playoffs, he raised the level of his game and scored eight goals and 21 points in 23 games. The 19-year-old has one more of junior hockey ahead of him before likely turning pro for the 2018-2019 season.
Want to start your sports media career? Then Join The Puck Network!
DucksNPucks is part of The Puck Network, which covers the entire NHL. There are openings to cover your favorite team(s) and earn school credits! If you are interested, then apply by filling out the form here: Join Our Team. What are you waiting for? Start your sports media career TODAY!
May 17th, 2017