March 27, 2021
The San Diego Gulls extended their winning streak to four games with a 2-1 win over Tucson Roadrunners tonight at FivePoint Arena. With the win, the Gulls improved to 10-3-0-0 at home, leading AHL to home wins (10) and home points (20).
San Diego’s third line dealt a foul as Alex Limoges (0-2 = 2), Matt Lorito (1-1 = 2) and Hunter Drew (1-1 = 2) recorded a multi-point effort in the win.
Netminder newcomer Olle Eriksson Ek stopped 25 of Tucson’s 26 shots for her fourth straight win. Eriksson Ek ranks third among novice goalkeepers in terms of average opponent goals (2.02, minimum 5 games played) and fourth in percentage saves (0.927, min. 5 games played).
“I think our goal setting has been solid throughout the year,” said head coach Kevin Dineen. “Olle has found himself an opportunity and he runs it. He looks great. He looks solid. I have used a lot of adjectives for him. We are very happy with his performance. We were a little bit depressed in the second period. They had waves coming at us and we weren’t. responds well but our aim is very solid. “
Former Gulls forward Kevin Roy opened the scoring with a power-play goal late in the first period. After a scramble in front of goal where Eriksson Ek made several saves, the puck finally bounced off Roy, who slipped it through the traffic to give Tucson a 1-0 lead with 1:28 left in the first half.
Despite conceding, Eriksson Ek made two brilliant saves in the first half.
The rookie netminder passed the preliminary test, making the star’s glove save Kevin Hancock’s shot from the slot at the first 4:51. The center pounces on the wrong bait, picking up the puck without a seagull in sight. He fired a quick shot at Eriksson Ek, who was aggressively approaching the top of his crease to take advantage of a scoring opportunity.
Just before San Diego was understaffed, Eriksson Ek made another great save, sliding across the crease to deny Cameron Hebig’s one-time shot.
Much like in Friday night’s win over Bakersfield, the San Diego defender who came forward played a part in attack, as Drew leveled halfway through the second half.
Lorito slid into the offensive zone on ball possession and saw Drew alone in the slot, where the great defender turned attacker fired a wrist shot past Connor LaCouvee for his third goal of the season.
“He’s making a good play on the ice,” Lorito explained. “He got it for me in the middle. I was originally thinking just to get a shot. I was kind of one on one with defense. He came up behind me and screamed for the puck so I just took my time and pulled up the defense in a moment. I saw Drew open up. wide and gave him the pass straight away. He did the rest, took a good shot. It was a good game. “
Limoges collected his second career assist for the goal. The former Penn State captain has 0-3 = 3 points in his first two AHL games of his career.
Tucson nearly reclaimed the lead in the final minutes of the mid-frame, but Eriksson Ek denied Michael Carcone’s attempt to keep the score heading into the third period.
The Gulls finally broke the deadlock with more than eleven minutes to play in regulation. Drew and Limoges combined to cause a turnaround for the Roadrunners in the Gulls offensive zone. Limoges took a free shot and fed Lorito, who quickly fired over the LaCouvee block, giving San Diego the first and final lead of the game.
The goal marked Lorito’s 15th career match winning goal.
“I’m very happy with him,” said Dineen. “He’s got a healthy scratch in a few games in a row. There’s not much you ask about a guy in that situation, but when you’re first on the ice for training and the last one away you make the statement you want in the lineup. . He demands a place. Good response by Matty. “
With help for the match winner, Limoges and Drew each register their first career multi-point game.
The Roadrunners struggled to find a tie in the last minute of play, but could not beat Eriksson Ek as San Diego held on to win 2-1.
The Gulls continue their homestand Wednesday, March 31 (7pm) with a showdown against rivals Ontario Reign.