San Diego Gulls team members
San Diego Gulls team members on the ice Saturday night. Courtesy of the team

Kallie Kossila had a goal and two assists as the San Diego Gulls broke out of a late-season slump with a 3-2 victory over the Ontario Reign Saturday evening at Valley View Casino Center.

Corey Tropp had a goal and an assist and Kevin Boyle (19-11-1-1) made 28 saves as the Gulls ended a three-game losing streak and a stretch of four losses in five games.

The victory lowered the Gulls’ magic number to assure themselves of their third playoff berth in three seasons in the American Hockey League to one.

The magic number is reduced each time the Gulls get a standings point and the fifth-place Stockton Heat fail to get a standings point.

Stockton lost to San Jose 7-3 Saturday afternoon, a day after a 6-2 loss to the Barracuda.

Kossilla’s power-play goal two minutes, nine seconds into the second period off assists by Joe Blandisi and Tropp broke a 1-1 tie and gave the Gulls (36-25-3-1) a lead they would not relinquish.

The Gulls increased their lead to 3-1 8:38 into the second period on Kevin Roy’s goal off assists by Kossila and defenseman Steve Oleksy.

The Reign cut the margin to 3-2 with 1:29 left on Sean Walker’s goal but were unable to tie the score again.

Tropp opened the scoring with a power-play goal 3:26 into the first period. Ontario (36-22-4-3) tied the score on Matt Moulson’s goal 10:32 into the first period before a crowd announced at 12,920.

The Gulls’ league-leading power play scored on two of six opportunities for the second consecutive game. The Gulls killed all five of the Reign’s power-play opportunities after killing off the final seven in Friday’s 3-2 loss.

The Gulls led in shots, 47-30, including an 18-11 advantage in the first period and 14-6 lead in the second.

Ontario goaltender Scott Wedgewood (3-1-1-0) made a season-high 44 saves.

Rookie center Giovanni Fiore was involved in his first fight in the 62 games he has played with the Gulls this season, brawling with Ontario defenseman Jordan Subban 6:20 into the third period.

Fiore received a five-minute major penalty and two-minute minor penalty for elbowing. Subban received a two-minute minor and a 10-minute misconduct for instigating, along with a five-minute major for fighting.

Players from both teams joined at center ice in a pregame ceremony to honor the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team, their families and community in a moment of silence.

A crash involving the bus carrying the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League team and a tractor-trailer in Connaught, Saskatchewan on Friday left at least 15 people dead, according to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

The Gulls, third in the AHL’s eight-team Pacific Division, are likely to face the second-place Reign, the Los Angeles Kings’ AHL affiliate, in the opening round of the playoffs for the second consecutive season. The playoffs begin the week of April 16.

The Gulls, the Anaheim Ducks’ AHL affiliate, will conclude the regular season by playing three consecutive games against the division-champion Tucson Roadrunners, the Arizona Coyotes’ AHL affiliate, beginning Wednesday at Valley View Casino Center.

— City News Service

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