Ice hockey players
Action on the ice as the Gulls play Tucson. Courtesy San Diego Gulls

The San Diego Gulls allowed two goals in the opening nine minutes, 34 seconds in a 4-1 loss to the Tucson Roadrunners Wednesday that ended their season-high five-game winning streak.

“I don’t think we started it on time,” said right wing Corey Tropp, who scored the Gulls only goal. “I just don’t think we competed hard enough.”

The Roadrunners opened the scoring 2:25 into the game on Nick Merkley’s power-play goal. Tucson increased its lead to 2-0 9:34 into the first period when Michael Bunting put a wrist shot from the right faceoff circle past Reto Berra for his eighth goal of the season.

The Gulls (14-12-1-0) cut the lead to 2-1 on Tropp’s power-play goal 7:26 into the second period. The goal was Tropp’s fourth in his past five games after he failed to scored a goal in his first seven games of the season.

The Roadrunners (15-9-2-1) regained a two-goal lead 1:13 into the third period on Tyler Gaudet’s goal before a crowd announced at 8,317 at Valley View Casino Center. Mike Sislo scored on a breakaway with 12:38 to play for Tucson, the Arizona Coyotes American Hockey League affiliate.

The Gulls were outshot, 34-26, including a 16-8 disadvantage in the third period. Adin Hill (6-6-1-0) made 25 saves. Berra (5-3-0-0) made 30 saves in his first loss after winning each of his past four decisions.

The Gulls, who lead the 30-team AHL by scoring on 24.1 percent of their power plays, scored on one of seven plays. The Gulls, who are last in penalty killing at 76.4 percent, killed five of six penalties.

Gulls defenseman Brian Cooper and Roadrunners left wing Trevor Cheek drew five-minute major penalties for their fight with 2:22 to play. The fight was Cooper’s first in his 16 games with the Gulls, the Anaheim Ducks AHL affiliate, this season.

The game was the Gulls last at Valley View Casino Center until Jan. 5 when they will play host to the San Jose Barracuda, the San Jose Sharks AHL affiliate. The Gulls will begin a three-game road trip Saturday in Cedar Park, Texas against the Texas Stars, the Dallas Stars AHL affiliate.

— City News Service

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.