Headed into Sunday afternoon against the Stockton Heat, the San Diego Gulls were riding a three-game winning streak, looking for a fourth in that would secure a playoff berth in their inaugural season.
A scoreless first period saw the teams exchanging a number of chances, yet stellar goalie performances kept the teams off the board but setting up a high-tempo and heavy hitting till. A few shots off the goal posts would become the standard for the game as would minor-penalties.
The second period started with the same high-tempo energy from both clubs, but it was the Gulls who would find the back of the net first as rookie forward Kalle Kossila, who was signed his first professional contract four days ago, beat Heat goalie Nick Schneider, scoring his first professional hockey goal. The lead, however, was not meant to last. After a defensive zone faceoff, the result of a Gulls icing call, the Heat’s Tyler Wotherspoon buried a shot off the drop.
The third period saw yet more scoreless action, but the intensity of play heightened with big hits and big fights leading the play. Both sides traded penalties, but neither could come up with a tie-breaking goal sending the game into overtime.
Twelve seconds into overtime the Stockton Heat buried a shot top shelf, ending the Gulls winning streak, and keeping them from securing their first ever playoff spot, by at least a few days. The game was only the third time this season the Gulls have lost after scoring first (27-0-2-1) and have still not suffered a regulation loss when scoring first.
Head coach Dallas Eakins remarked that the team needs to just “move on” when it comes to not clinching the playoff spot after the game. “We were in a tough spot, we played last night with Stockton sitting and waiting for us, and then to play two games in a game and a half.”
On Kossila scoring his first goal, Eakins said, “yeah he was good, he’s got some skill and a little bit of smarts, and when a guy like that scores, everyone is happy.”
Kossila, when asked about scoring his first goal said that “getting the first out of the way, the guys made a nice play.” He said he still needs some time to learn the system, but everyone has been welcoming and encouraging.”
He went on to say that centering Nick Ritchie’s line meant a lot. “It helped a lot to get some playing time and not sit on the bench.”
San Diego Gulls lineup:
Michael Sgarbossa – Chris Mueller – Stefan Noesen
Nick Ritchie – Kalle Kossila – Ondrej Kase
Antoine Laganiere – Matt Bailey – Corey Tropp
Joseph Cramarossa – Kenny Ryan – Stu Bickel
Jaycob Megna – Brandon Montour
Shane O’Brien – Shea Theodore
Andrew O’Brien – Joe Piskula