By Thomas Harrington
The final two weeks of the regular season ended in disaster for the Gulls. In their final six games, the team went 1-5, their lone win coming on fan appreciation night. As a result, the Gulls missed the playoffs for the first time since Anaheim moved their AHL affiliate to southern California. If the Gulls had just one of those five games go to overtime and picked up a single point, they would have made the postseason.
The Gulls started off the final two weeks of the season with a trip to San Jose. The Barracuda scored two goals in the first and one goal in both the second and third periods to get the 4-0 win. After that blowout loss, the Gulls traveled to Ontario to take on the Reign. Ontario scored less than two minutes into the game and made it 2-0 before the first was over. In the second, Corey Tropp made it a one goal game, but Ontario scored to restore their two-goal lead. Kalle Kossila scored less than a minute into the third, but that was the only offense the team could muster. The Gulls had a lot of pressure, but it wasn’t enough and they lost 3-2. The Gulls then returned home to host the Reign for fan appreciation night. Tropp got the Gulls on the board early in the first, but Ontario tied it before the period was over. In the second, Kossila and Kevin Roy both scored to give San Diego a 3-1 lead. In the third, both teams had a number of shots and chances, but Ontario scored the only goal of the period, and it came with only minutes to go in regulation. San Diego was able to hold on to the 3-2 win in this one.
To finish the regular season, the Gulls had three straight games against the Tucson Roadrunners, the best team in the Western Conference this year. In the first game, the Roadrunners dominated San Diego, and the Gulls lost 4-0 for the second time in a week. The Gulls were much better in the next game, though Tucson did get the opening goal, but Nicolas Kerdiles tied things up before the first was over. With just over two minutes to go in the second, Tucson went back on top, and it looked like they would take the lead into intermission. However, Roy scored with 13 seconds left in the second to tie things up at two. Things were looking good for San Diego, but Tucson was the better team in the third and were eventually rewarded with a late third period goal and a 3-2 win. Going into the final game of the season, the Gulls knew that they just needed to get the game into overtime to secure their third straight trip to the Calder Cup Playoffs. Unfortunately, Tucson started out great, building a 3-0 lead just two minutes into the second period. Kerdiles scored in the second and Kossila got one in the third to make it 3-2, but the Roadrunners responded with a goal of their own to make it 4-2. Kossila scored one more time to make it a 4-3 game, but Tucson responded again to make it 5-3. They then finished things off with an empty net goal to make it 6-3.
While it was a disappointing end to the regular season, it was still an exciting one for the franchise. Kossila, Roy, Andy Welinski, Marcus Pettersson, and Giovanni Fiore all had great seasons. Welinski and Pettersson both finished the season in Anaheim. Who knows, maybe if they’d been in San Diego for the final two weeks of the season it would have been enough to get them over the hump. For now, Jacob Larsson and Reto Berra have both been recalled to Anaheim, but neither saw any action in the sweep against San Jose. If that series had gone on longer, other San Diego players could get called up as well to serve as Anaheim’s Black Aces squad. But for the Gulls, all that’s left is a bitter disappointment to a once-promising season.
What’s in store for the Anaheim organization in the offseason? Listen to our latest podcast!
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!
April 19th, 2018