American Hockey League Postseason
The Gulls took Game 1 of their post-season rematch with Bakersfield. Photo credit:

The San Diego Gulls opened their playoff run with a 5-3 win over the Bakersfield Condors to take the lead in the best-of-three semifinals series.

They can win the series at 5 p.m. Sunday at Mechanics Banks Arena in Bakersfield. Game 2 airs on the CW San Diego.

San Diego earned the victory on the strength of its three power-play goals. The Gulls have had eight power-play goals in their last five playoff games against Bakersfield dating back to 2019. The Gulls won that series in six games.

“It’s something we’ve been working on for the last week or so that we had in practice,” Sam Carrick said. “Things seemed to click early on. It always helps when on that first power play, you get a goal there and get that confidence rolling.”

Carrick, Andrew Agozzino and Trevor Zegras each recorded three points, matching the club record for points in a playoff game. Jamie Drysdale and Vinni Lettieri also notched multi-point performances.

“There’s some good chemistry out there,” Gulls head coach Kevin Dineen said. “You take Jamie [Drysdale] and his poise at the top of the unit. You have the ability to pass the puck like Z [Zegras] does, and boy, Vinni Lettieri has an NHL shot. When he gets open over there, he’s going to rip it.”

Bakersfield nearly took an early lead in the first period, but two saves by rookie netminder Lukas Dostal kept the score level. 

“He was lights out that first period,” Dineen said.

Carrick called Dostal “a stud.”

“Some of the saves he makes, how calm, cool and collected he looks in net, our team feeds off of it,” he said. “He’s making the easy saves but he’s also making the hard saves.”

Dostal stopped 39-of-42 shots to earn his first win in his first American Hockey League postseason appearance.

San Diego’s captain opened the scoring with a power-play goal late in the opening frame.

Lettieri directed a pass into the middle of the ice for Agozzino, who immediately tapped it to the point for Drysdale. The rookie defenseman fired a shot from the point that Carrick tipped home to give San Diego the lead with 4:36 remaining in the first period.

Carrick struck again early in the second period. 

Zegras collected the puck just inside the blue line before spotting Lettieri in the right faceoff circle. The pass drew all the attention of the Bakersfield defense and Lettieri took advantage, setting up Carrick on the backdoor for a tap-in goal 3:10 into the middle frame.

Carrick became the Gull in club history to score two power-play goals in a playoff game. 

After the Gulls added another goal, the Condors got on the board as Brad Malone’s centering pass bounced off Simon Benoit’s stick and past Dostal, to make it 3-1 with 10:26 left in regulation.

A minute later, another bad bounce led to a Bakersfield goal as Seth Griffith’s shot caromed off the post, then Dostal’s pad and over the line, pulling the Condors within one.

Zegras and Agozzino then teamed up for a big insurance goal. Zegras pressured Kevin Gravel on the forecheck, ripping the puck away from the big defenseman before setting up Agozzino, who beat Skinner with a quick shot.

The goal restored San Diego’s two-goal cushion with 5:02 left to play.

Bakersfield again pulled within a goal as Seth Griffith set up Tyler Benson with a backdoor pass, but Zegras capped the scoring with an empty-net goal, his first AHL postseason goal, at the 19:56 mark of the third period.