By Thomas Harrington
The Gulls played only four games over the last two weeks, going 2-1-0-1. If not for their struggles in Stockton, the Gulls could have won all four games.
The Gulls started things out by traveling to Stockton to take on the Heat, the place they have struggled the most on the road over the last three seasons. Stockton took the 2-0 lead in the first, but Alex Dostie put San Diego on the board before the opening period was over. In the second, the Heat scored the lone goal to make it 3-1. Corey Tropp made it 3-2 early in the third, but the Heat scored again late in regulation to take the 4-2 lead and victory. The Gulls returned home following this loss to host the Rampage. It looked like the first period would remain scoreless, but Tropp opened the scoring with less than 30 seconds to go. Neither team scored in the second, but Kalle Kossila doubled San Diego’s lead just 15 seconds into the final frame. Kevin Roy scored his 10th of the season to make it 3-0, which ended up being the final score. Reto Berra stopped all 26 shots that he faced to get the shutout.
Next up was Ontario, as they came to San Diego to take on the Gulls. The game was a back and forth affair, as Sam Carrick opened the scoring in the first before the Reign tied the game up. Mike Liambas restored the lead, but Ontario tied the game back up again before the first was over. Andy Welinski was the only player to score in the second, putting the Gulls back on top. In the third, Ontario scored two goals just a couple of minutes apart to take the 4-3 lead. Welinski scored his second of the game to tie things up with four minutes to go in regulation. Tied at four, the game went to overtime. In the extra session, Carrick made a great move and Jacob Larsson scored the overtime game-winner, giving the Gulls the 5-4 lead.
After two straight wins, the Gulls headed back to Stockton to take on the Heat. Things started out great for the Gulls, as Roy, Welinski, and Giovanni Fiore made it 3-0 before the game was 11 minutes old. Stockton made a goalie change, and all of a sudden, the momentum was all on their side; they scored twice to make it 3-2 before the first was over. In the second, Fiore scored his second of the night to restore the two-goal lead, but Stockton cut the lead back to one before the middle frame was over. In the third, Stockton scored the lone goal to tie things up at four, and the game went to overtime. Neither team scored in the extra session, but Kevin Boyle was forced to make a number of high quality saves as the Heat had the best chances in overtime. The shootout went six rounds deep, but Fiore was the only player to score for the Gulls, while the Heat scored twice to win the game 5-4. Given the lead the Gulls had, this was a very disappointing loss for San Diego.
The good news is that the Gulls won’t have a lot of time to have that loss sit in their heads, as they will play six games over the next two weeks. They’ll start out by hosting Cleveland, before traveling to Ontario and then travel to Bakersfield. They’ll then return home for three games, facing San Antonio, Milwaukee, and Bakersfield.
Marcus Pettersson is the only San Diego player in Anaheim right now, and he just scored his first career NHL goal. He’s looked good in Anaheim, and will likely be with the Ducks for the next little while. Given the fact that the Ducks brought in Chris Kelly and Jason Chimera at the deadline, there isn’t much room for any call-ups unless an injury happens. If needed, I think Fiore, Roy, and Welinski are the most likely to make their way to Anaheim, as all three played very well over the last couple of weeks.
The Gulls are in second place in the Pacific Division and have a chance to finish first in the division. They trail Tucson by only three points and have a game in hand. Regardless of where they finish, the Gulls have done a great job over the last few months of making sure they make the Calder Cup Playoffs for the third straight season and will hope to go beyond the second round for the first time since the Gulls were reborn.
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March 6th, 2018