The San Diego Gulls will try to regain the lead in the American Hockey League’s Western Conference Finals Saturday evening when they play host to the Chicago Wolves in the last game of the series to be played at Pechanga Arena San Diego.
The Gulls lost to the Wolves, 2-1, in Game 4 Friday night with Daniel Carr scoring six minutes, one second into the second overtime to tie the best- of-seven series at two games a piece.
“It’s a tough finish, but when you get to overtime that’s what happens,” Gulls defenseman Jaycob Megna said. “Both teams had chances. You get a bounce here or there and it’s in the back of your net. You move on.”
Carr raced back with the defensemen to stop an odd-man rush by the Gulls. Chicago left wing Curtis McKenzie gained control of the puck after an errant pass by the Gulls caromed off the boards. He skated to the Wolves blue line then sent a pass to center T.J. Tynan, who crossed over the Gulls blue line and centered a pass to Carr.
Carr skated toward the Gulls defense then put a wrist shot through traffic and under goaltender Kevin Boyle for his second goal of the series and fourth of the 2019 Calder Cup playoffs.
Carr won the Les Cunningham Award as the AHL’s MVP for the 2018-19 season with 30 goals, 71 points and a plus-35 plus/minus rating in 52 regular- season games. Carr led the AHL in all three categories on March 5, the day he was the victim of a hit by San Antonio Rampage left wing Jordan Nolan that caused an injury that kept him out for the final 18 games of the regular season.
Nolan received a two-game suspension by the AHL for the hit.
The Gulls tied the score with 16:24 left in regulation on Justin Kloos’ wrist shot from the right faceoff circle. Jack Kopacka grabbed a loose puck along the right wing wall, fought off a check and slid a pass to Kloos streaking toward the net. Defenseman Jacob Larsson was also credited with an assist.
Megna received a double-minor for high-sticking 53 seconds into the first overtime, but the Gulls were able to hold the Wolves scoreless on the four-minute power-play before a crowd announced at 12,147, the largest of the 2019 Calder Cup playoffs.
The Gulls went on the power play 7:42 into the first overtime when Chicago center Cody Glass was called for hooking. A shot by Gulls center Sam Steel from the blueline on the power play was deflected off the post, bounced around in the crease but stayed out of the net.
The Gulls, the Anaheim Ducks’ AHL affiliate, led in shots in the first overtime, 17-5. Both teams took three shots in the second overtime. The Gulls were outshot, 44-41, thanks to a 16-3 disadvantage in the second period.
Boyle made 42 saves in his first loss in the playoffs following three victories.
“He kept us in it and he had one helluva night,” Gulls coach Dallas Eakins said. “I thought he was excellent in the net. That game could’ve been three or four to nothing after two periods and he kept us close enough that we could get it tied up.”
Goaltender Oscar Dansk equaled a career high with 40 saves for the Wolves, the Vegas Golden Knights’ AHL affiliate.
“This is huge,” Chicago coach Rocky Thompson said. “We found a way. We had a great first half of the game, then it fell off for us a little bit. They came hard and Oscar kept us in there in the overtime. We persevered. That’s been our whole year.”
The Wolves opened the scoring 4:17 into the second period when defenseman Griffin Reinhart put a shot from between the faceoff circles past Boyle.
The scoring sequence began when Chicago center Gage Quinney knocked a loose puck along the right wing boards in its offensive zone to Keegan Kolesar, who passed to Tomas Hyka in the right faceoff circle. Hyka then passed to Reinhart.
Gulls right wing Corey Tropp and Wolves defenseman Zach Whitecloud each received five-minute major penalties for their fight at 1:08 of the first period after Tropp’s hit of Carr in the neutral zone.
Basketball Hall of Fame member Bill Walton, a San Diego native, dropped the puck for the ceremonial faceoff.
Game 6 will be played Monday in Rosemont, Illinois. Game 7, if necessary, would be played Wednesday, also at Allstate Arena in Rosemont.
–City News Service
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