San Diego Gulls players after the final game
San Diego Gulls players after the final game of the season. Courtesy San Diego Gulls30

The San Diego Gulls season ended Monday evening with a 3-1 loss to the Chicago Wolves in Game 6 of the American Hockey League‘s Western Conference finals at Rosemont, IL.

The game was scoreless until midway through the third period when the Wolves scored twice 19 seconds apart.

The Gulls cut the lead to 2-1 with five minutes, nine seconds to play when Sam Carrick put in the rebound of a shot by Ben Street for a power-play goal.

The Gulls nearly tied the score with less than 4:00 left, but a shot by defenseman Jaycob Megna hit a post.

Chicago got an insurance goal with 3:05 to play when Curtis McKenzie put a wrist shot from between the faceoff circles past Gulls goaltender Kevin Boyle for his second goal of the game before a crowd at Allstate Arena announced at 4,628.

Dallas Eakins pulled Boyle for an extra attacker with 2:30 left, but the Gulls were unable to score, losing the best-of-seven series four games to two.

“We had our chances to score,” Carrick said. “Sometimes that is just the way it goes. Sometimes luck is not on your side.”

The Gulls led in shots, 30-28, including a 12-5 advantage in the first period. They scored on one of their three power-play opportunities.

The Wolves won the final three games of the series, including two at Pechanga Arena San Diego to advance to the Calder Cup Final, where they will face the Charlotte Checkers, the Carolina Hurricanes AHL affiliate, beginning Saturday in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Boyle made 25 saves. Oscar Dansk made 29 for Chicago, the Vegas Golden Knights AHL affiliate.

“It’s another game we just found a way to get through,” said McKenzie, who captained the Texas Stars to the 2018 Calder Cup Final. “For a lot of the game, we probably weren’t the better team. But Oscar was so good in the net for us.”

McKenzie opened the scoring 12:28 into the third period, tipping a shot by defenseman Nic Hague over Boyle’s blocker.

Keegan Kolesar tipped a shot by defenseman Griffin Reinhart between Boyle’s pads for the second goal.

“Tonight’s not a successful night,” said Eakins , whose team lost two games in overtime in the series. “It’s painful, it’s hurtful, it’s disappointing and it’s all of those things because the tightness of the group. We just needed a bounce or two to make it in the finals.”

Eakins has coached the Gulls throughout their four seasons in the AHL, but Monday could have been his final game with the team. He is considered a leading candidate to fill the vacant coaching position of the Gulls NHL parent team, the Anaheim Ducks.

— City News Service

Chris Jennewein

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