Hockey players
Action on the ice Saturday night at Valley View Casino Center. Courtesy San Diego Gulls

The San Diego Gulls were unable to hold a two-goal first-period lead, allowing four consecutive goals, including the go-ahead goal midway through the third period in a 4-2 loss to the Tucson Roadrunners Saturday evening.

The Roadrunners took the lead with nine minutes, 45 seconds to play in the third period on Dylan Strome’s power-play goal and added an empty-net goal by Michael Bunting with 56 seconds left at Valley View Casino Center.

The Gulls (19-14-1-0) took a 2-0 lead on Joe Blandisi’s goal 9:59 into the first period and Corey Tropp’s goal 17:36 into the period. The goal was Tropp’s ninth in his 18 games with the Gulls and fifth in his last five.

Tucson, the Arizona Coyotes American Hockey League affiliate, cut the lead to 2-1 57 seconds into the second period on Strome’s power-play goal. The Roadrunners tied the score on Laurent Dauphin’s goal at 2:37 of the second period before a crowd announced at 9,190.

The Gulls league-leading power-play was scoreless in seven power-play opportunities, including a two-minute, two-man advantage in the second period.

“Power plays either give the team momentum that has it or to the team that kills it,” Gulls defenseman Jaycob Megna said after his team’s four- game winning streak ended.

“They made some big saves and their goalie played well. That gave them a little bit of juice. We are relying a bit too much on our power play and we need to establish a better game at five on five.”

Tucson (19-11-2-1) scored on two of its four power-play opportunities.

The Gulls led in shots, 34-30, including a 16-10 advantage in the second period.

Goaltender Reto Berra stopped 26 of 29 shots for the Gulls, the Anaheim Ducks AHL affiliate. Adin Hill made 33 saves for the Roadrunners, who lead the AHL’s eight-team Pacific Division.

The Gulls and Tucson will meet again Monday and Wednesday at the Tucson Convention Center Arena.

— City News Service

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