Escondido native Austin Ortega scored the San Diego Gulls lone goal in a 3-1 loss to the Texas Stars in their home opener Friday evening before a sellout crowd at Valley View Casino Center.
Ortega put in a rebound of a shot by Giovanni Fiore for a power-play goal with 11 minutes, four seconds to play cut Texas’ lead to 2-1, but Matt Mangene scored an empty-net goal with eight seconds to play to seal the victory for the Stars in front of a crowd announced at 12,920.
“I was just disappointed the way we started the game five-on-five,” Gulls coach Dallas Eakins said “We were letting them dictate, letting them make an impact while we stood. Now the encouraging thing was that the second and third period we started to claw back. That’s how you have to play every shift.”
The Gulls (1-1-0-0) led 28-24 in shots, including 11-7 and 11-3 advantages in the second and third periods.
Kevin Boyle made 21 saves for the Gulls, the Anaheim Ducks AHL affiliate. Mike McKenna made 27 saves for the Stars (3-0-0-0).
The Gulls scored on one of their five power-play opportunities and killed one of Texas’ two.
The sellout was the fifth since the Gulls moved to San Diego in 2015.
Ortega scored four goals in six games for the Gulls late last season after completing his college career at Nebraska-Omaha.
The two teams will meet again at Valley View Casino Center on Saturday at 7 p.m.
“The message was clear (from Eakins),” Ortega said. “We got beat tonight and it’s not acceptable. Tomorrow we are going to be a lot better.”
— City News Service