Sam Steel Gulls
San Diego Gulls center Sam Steel with a goal against the Ontario Reign. Photo courtesy of the San Diego Gulls

Sam Steel had two goals and two assists and Kevin Boyle stopped 16 of 17 shots as the San Diego Gulls defeated the Ontario Reign, 6-1, Friday evening at Pechanga Arena San Diego, their seventh victory in their past eight home games.

The Gulls were called for three penalties in the opening five minutes, two seconds. Ontario had a two-man advantage for 21 seconds and Matt Moulson scored at 5:24 of the first period, one second after the first penalty expired. The Gulls scored the final six goals.

“Once we got through the first 10 minutes, when we took the penalties and then had a lull, we took over the game in the last eight minutes (of the first),” Gulls coach Dallas Eakins said. “I didn’t say a word to the group in between periods, after the first. That’s a strength of our group.

“From our first-year guys, who had excellent nights, right through our veterans, we’ve got really good men in there. We have selfless men and guys who are committed. I just felt like they could coach themselves in between periods, it’ an important thing for them to do. Obviously, they got their feet underneath them and showed what they can do in the second period.”

The Gulls (23-13-2-3) tied the score 16:08 into the first period. As the Reign (13-21-4-2) tried to move the puck out of their own zone, Justin Kloos intercepted a pass and went to the net. His shot bounced off the stick of Kiefer Sherwood and right to Chase De Leo, who backhanded it past goaltender Cal Petersen for his 10th goal of the season.

Sam Carrick matched the Gulls single-season goal-scoring record for their four seasons in the American Hockey League with his 21st 2:51 into the second period on the power play.

Steel scored an unassisted goal 4:27 into the second period. The Gulls scored again 45 seconds later when left wing Jack Kopacka took a pass from fellow rookie Troy Terry and scored his third goal in his six-game professional career and second in two games.

Matt Berry scored from the right faceoff circle with 7:23 left in the second period before a crowd announced at 11,931.

The goal prompted Ontario coach Mike Stothers to replace Petersen (4- 10-2-1), who had given up five goals on 27 shots, with Peter Budaj, who would stop nine of 10 shots over the final 27:23.

Steel put in a rebound of a shot by Max Jones with 6:02 remaining in the third period for his scored goal of the game and 11th of the season. His four points matched the most by a Gulls rookie in their four AHL seasons.

“I think we saw flashes of what this team can be if we’re willing to keep our shifts very short,” Eakins said. “We’re able to just turn four lines over and it turns into a very tough matchup game for the other team.”

The Gulls led in shots, 37-17, including a 16-4 advantage in the first period and 14-5 edge in the second.

Boyle improved to 18-6-1-0, including a 13-1-1-0 record in his last 15 decisions.

Both teams scored on one of five power-play opportunities.

Since their last game Saturday, the Reign had four players recalled by their NHL parent team, the Los Angeles Kings.

The Gulls, the Anaheim Ducks AHL affiliate, will play host to the Iowa Wild, the Minnesota Wild’s AHL affiliate, Saturday at Pechanga Arena San Diego.

— City News Service