Despite falling behind for a sixth straight game, the San Diego Gulls bounced back Wednesday to defeat the Bakersfield Condors, 4-3, in Irvine.
The victory stretched the team’s franchise-best season-long win streak to six games.
Vinnie Lettieri scored the game-winner in the third period, and rookies Benoit-Olivier Groulx and Jacob Perreault scored their first professional goals to help the Gulls overcome a two-goal deficit early in the first period.
Head coach Kevin Dineen called for “just a little more balance” in the Gulls’ games, but admitted he’s OK with the final results.
“At the end of it, I like the score at the end of the night,” he said.
Bakersfield grabbed the early momentum, with Condors Brad Malone and Luke Esposito scoring two goals in 20 seconds before the game reached its five-minute mark.
San Diego’s rookies responded, pulling the Gulls even with two goals in 48 seconds after the halfway mark of the opening period.
Groulx’s score was also his first professional goal, and it put San Diego on the board at 12:36 of the period.
“I was just in front of the net where you score goals and got a tip on it. I got very lucky honestly but it was a great play by Josh (Mahura) and Bryce (Kindopp) so I got to give them credit.”
Perreault tied the game, also scoring his first professional goal, with 6:36 left in the first period.
“It was a good feeling to get the first one out of the way,” said the 27th overall selection at the 2020 NHL Draft.
San Diego’s Carrick brothers, Sam and Trevor, teamed up to give the Gulls their first lead of the game, with Trevor Carrick collecting his first goal as a Gull.
Bakersfield pulled even at 6:07 of the second period, thanks to Cooper Marody.
Lettieri put San Diego ahead for good 26 seconds into the third period, securing the team’s sixth straight win.
“All those players are playing up to their capabilities this year which has made it, well not easy, we’ve played a lot of close hockey games, and that’s part of the character building too. Yeah, our record is 6-0, but there is a lot of grind that went into those wins,” Dineen said.
The Gulls play the Condors again at 6 p.m. Friday in Bakersfield.