The San Diego Gulls were again unable to overcome an early deficit, allowing three goals in the opening eight minutes, 52 seconds in a 6-3 loss to the Stockton Heat Friday evening at Valley View Casino Center.
Second-period goals by Sam Carrick and Steve Oleksy cut the deficit to 3- 2, but Stockton responded with back-to-back goals by Morgan Klimchuk and Garnet Hathaway to hand the Gulls their third loss in four games.
“I think our inexperience shows right now,” said Gulls coach Dallas Eakins, whose team allowed the first four goals in a 6-2 loss to the Texas Stars Wednesday. “There are a number of players in the room that need to know they are battling for a spot.”
The Heat (8-4-0-1) opened the scoring 27 seconds into the game when Brett Findlay knocked in the rebound of a shot by Tyler Wotherspoon. Hathaway also had an assist, the first point of a two-goal, two-assist game before a capacity crowd of 12,920 at the start of Military Weekend.
Hunter Shinkaruk’s power-play goal at 6:00 increased Stockton’s lead to 2-0. The Heat’s neutral zone trap paid dividends with a 2-on-1 break which Hathaway finished at 8:52.
Carrick poked in the rebound of a wrist shot by Giovanni Fiore 29 seconds into the second period. Oleksy’s shot from the point went off the stick of a Stockton player into the net at 8:14 of the second period.
However, the Gulls (5-6-1-0) did not get any closer. Klimchuk put in his own rebound at 12:43 of the second period and Hathaway scored a power-play goal 1:22 into the third period for the Heat, the Calgary Flames American Hockey League affiliate.
Julius Nattinen scored a power-play goal for the Gulls 2:09 into the third period. Stockton left wing Andrew Mangiapane put a wrist shot past Gulls goaltender Leland Irving at 8:46 for the final goal.
“We battled, but then again, we didn’t battle enough,” said Fiore, who also assisted on Nattinen’s power-play goal for the first multi-point game of his AHL career. Everything we’re doing, it’s just not enough. We need to do a lot more, regularly.”
The Gulls, the Anaheim Ducks AHL affiliate, were outshot, 39-26, including a 12-5 disadvantage in the first period. The Gulls scored on one of four power-play opportunities. The Heat scored on two of their six.
Irving (1-3-0-0) made 33 saves. Stockton goaltender David Rittich (4-1-0- 0) made 23.
There were two fights, both in the first period. Gulls left wing Mike Liambas and Heat left wing Tanner Glass both drew five-minute major penalties for their fight 10:11 into the first period.
Gulls left wing Scott Sabourin received a five-minute major, and a two- minute and 10-minute misconduct for instigating his fight with Stockton defenseman Oleg Yevenko at 17:18 of the first period.
The Gulls will conclude Military Weekend Saturday against the Ontario Reign, the Los Angeles Kings AHL affiliate. The Gulls will again wear custom camouflage jerseys.
Select game-worn Gulls camouflage jerseys will be autographed and available for a silent auction following Saturday’s game on the concourse at Section 10. A limited number of game-worn camouflage jerseys will be available via the DASH Auction app, which can be downloaded via iOS or Android devices in the app store.
All proceeds raised from the auctions will be donated by the San Diego Gulls Foundation to the Armed Services YMCA and Operation Rebound of the Challenged Athletes Foundation.
—City News Service