The San Diego Gulls fell to the Stockton Heat 7 to 5, in a hard-fought match that would bring the Gulls within seconds of tying the game with a four-minute overtime.
The Heat took a 2 – 1 lead into the locker room after the first period following a series of scoring chances from each side. The Gulls opened the scoring on a power play goal scored by forward Ondrej Kase, but the goal was answered shortly after when Stockton’s Morgan Klimchuck found the back of the net after dancing around the Gulls’ defense. The Heat took the lead on a controversial goal scored by Garnet Hathaway, following a hit on Gulls’ goaltender Matt Hackett which left him down on the ice and unable to get into position to make the save.
The second period with a quick goal from the Heat, putting them up by two and silencing the already upset crown in San Diego. On yet another power play, the Gulls managed to close the gap with a beautiful redirection goal by Kase, his second of the night. With the Gulls continuing to control much of the puck possession, their shots were not making past goaltender Jon Gillies, and the Heat once again capitalized on an opportunity, taking a 4 – 2 lead halfway through the period. The teams traded goals as the period wound down, with a goal from Gulls’ defenseman Nate Guenin and immediately after a goal from the Heat’s Hunter Shinkaruk, keeping a two-goal gap between the teams.
Coming out for the third, the Gulls looked to get back on the board and even up the game. Again, unable to capitalize on their few chances, the Gulls saw the deficit grow as with ten minutes left in the game Stockton added another goal to the board, giving them a three goal lead. The Gulls held tight and capitalized hard on a delayed penalty with a goal by Corey Tropp bringing the gap back within two, and shortly after putting pressure on the net Brandon Montour was able to bring the Gulls within one goal with four and a half minutes left.
With only three minutes left the Heat took a double minor for high sticking, giving the Gulls a four-minute power play and a chance to tie the game. It was not meant to be as the Gulls pulled Hackett in a last effort to send the game into overtime and with 0.09 second left, the Heat scored and empty net goal.
“I liked our confidence when we were down,” Head Coach Dallas Eakins said in a post game interview. Eakins noted the game didn’t go in their direction, mentioning the goaltender interference goal and a few questionable offsides calls, but said this is a development league for the officials too and “they are doing the best they can.”
“It’s obviously frustrating,” said Brandon Montour about the interference goal. “It’s just a tough break.”
San Diego Gulls lines:
Stefan Noesen – Kalle Kossila – Ondrej Kase
Kevin Roy – Antoine Laganiere – Corey Tropp
Nick Tarnasky – Kyle MacKinnon – Stu Bickel
Jeff Schultz – Andy Welinski
Jacob Larsson – Nate Guenin
Jaycob Megna – Brandon Montour