San Diego Gulls player
File photo. Courtesy San Diego Gulls

The San Diego Gulls were unable to hold a two-goal third-period lead, allowing four unanswered goals in the final period as they opened the season with a 6-4 loss to the Tucson Roadrunners on Saturday evening in Tucson, Arizona.

Tucson took a 5-4 lead with nine minutes, 46 second to play on rookie forward Matteo Gennaro’s first professional goal. The goal came 35 seconds after Adam Helewka tied the score with his second goal of the period.

Helewka scored 59 seconds into the third period.

Michael Bunting added an insurance goal for the Roadrunners with 4:46 left on the power play.

Sam Carrick had two goals and an assist for the Gulls, the Anaheim Ducks American Hockey League affiliate.

Carrick opened the scoring with a short-handed goal 1:27 into the first period, scored a power-play goal 16:42 into the second period that gave the Gulls a 4-2 lead and assisted on Jack Kopacka’s first professional goal 13:23 into the first period.

Kopacka’s goal came 56 seconds after Jens Looke’s power-play goal for the Roadrunners, the Arizona Coyotes AHL affiliate.

Looke also scored at 16:11 of the first period, cutting the Gulls lead to 3-2.

Chase De Leo scored 6:13 into the first period to give the Gulls a 2-0 lead.

The Gulls killed a team-record nine power-play opportunities and allowed two power-play goals. The Gulls scored on one of their two power-play opportunities.

Jared Coreau stopped 38 of 44 shots in his debut with the Gulls after playing with the AHL’s Grand Rapid Griffins the past four seasons, along with 21 games with Grand Rapids NHL parent team, the Detroit Red Wings.

Adin Hill stopped 16 of 20 shots for Tucson before a crowd at Tucson Convention Center Arena announced at 6,327.

The Gulls will play their home opener Friday at Valley View Casino Center, also against the Roadrunners.

The Gulls concluded the 2017-18 season by losing three consecutive games to Tucson, including the finale 6-3 in Tucson.

The Gulls needed one standings point in any of their final three games, all against the Pacific Division-champion Roadrunners, to be assured of a playoff berth, but lost all three in regulation.

The Gulls (36-28-3-1) and San Jose Barracuda (34-26-4-4) both finished with 76 points. However, San Jose had 33 victories in regulation or overtime to 32 for the Gulls, the first tiebreaker to decide the Pacific Division’s final playoff qualifier.

— City News Service