The San Diego Gulls rallied from a two-goal third- period deficit to force overtime, but Cameron Hebig scored the only goal in the shootout to give the Bakersfield Condors a 4-3 victory Friday evening in Bakersfield.
The Gulls tied the score with nine minutes, 30 seconds remaining in the third period when Kalle Kossila put in a loose puck from in front of the net for his fifth goal of the season.
The Gulls cut Bakersfield’s lead to 3-2 on Corey Tropp’s power-play goal 5:55 into the third period off assists by Kossila and Andy Welinski.
Neither team scored during the five-minute overtime which is played with three skaters per team, two fewer than regulation.
Gulls goaltender Jared Coreau kept the score tied by stopping Joe Gambardella on a breakaway in overtime. The Condors led in shots in overtime, 3- 2.
Neither team scored during the first two rounds of the shootout. Hebig scored to open the third round. Sam Carrick failed to score for the Gulls (8-11-1-2) as their winless streak was extended to five games.
“We didn’t quit,” Gulls coach Dallas Eakins said. “I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but again, not giving up much and we were behind. We could’ve folded up the tent and just called it a night. I’m proud of the guys the way they handled themselves on the bench. They were all saying the right things and then they took action in the third period.”
Bakersfield (12-10-0-0) is 2-0 in shootouts this season and 8-0-0-0 when leading after two periods.
The Gulls never led. The Condors opened the scoring 3:35 into the first period when center Luke Esposito took the puck from behind the net and snuck it past Coreau for his first goal his 19 games with Bakersfield this season and fourth of his 64-game professional career. The goal came on the Condors first shot.
Esposito is a nephew of Hockey Hall of Fame member Mark Messier but not related to Hall of Famers Phil or Tony Esposito.
The Gulls tied the score 7:46 into the first period. Carrick began the scoring sequence by stealing the puck on the forecheck, then passed to Matt Berry in front of the net. Berry passed it across the crease to Giovanni Fiore who scored from in front of the net.
Berry’s assist was his first point in his three games since signing a professional tryout with the Gulls Dec. 7.
Cooper Marody scored on a breakaway for the Condors 13:33 into the first period before a crowd at Rabobank Arena announced at 4,312.
Gambardella scored the only goal of the second period, putting a centering pass from Patrick Russell 12:38 into period into the net for his team- leading 10th goal of the season.
The Gulls led 38-29 in shots, including a 13-6 advantage in the first period and 16-10 in the third.
Shane Starrett (6-2-0-0) made 35 saves, his most this season in 11 games with Bakersfield, the Edmonton Oilers American Hockey League affiliate.
Coreau (3-6-1-2) made 25 saves.
The Gulls scored on one of five power-play opportunities and killed both of the Condors power-play opportunities.
Since their last game, a 4-3 loss to the Colorado Eagles Saturday, the Gulls had one player recalled by their NHL parent team, the Anaheim Ducks, defenseman Andrej Sustr, and a second traded by the Ducks, defenseman Steve Oleksy, who was sent to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for center Adam Cracknell, who was scoreless and didn’t take a shot in his debut with the Gulls Friday.
The Gulls will play host to the San Jose Barracuda, the San Jose Sharks AHL affiliate, Saturday night at the renamed Pechanga Arena San Diego.
–City News Service