AHL Minor league hockey
Gull Vincent Marleau with the puck in the team’s 4-1 loss to San Jose. Photo credit: @SDGullsAHL via Twitter

The San Diego Gulls fell victim to a third-period comeback Saturday by the San Jose Barracuda, losing 4-1 at Pechanga Arena. 

Benoit-Olivier Groulx scored a power-play goal, his first of the season. Olle Eriksson Ek suffered his first career loss to San Jose, stopping 28-of-31 shots.

“I thought we took a lot of strides in the last month or six weeks, but this week was definitely not the week we wanted,” Gulls head coach Joel Bouchard said as his team lost its third straight game.

The game, a match-up of teams at the bottom of the league’s Pacific Division, remained a scoreless battle until the middle frame, and Groulx’s power play with 2:13 left.

But the Gulls saw San Jose storm back in the closing period. First, Patrick Holaway tied the game at 4:08 in the period for his first American Hockey League goal.

San Jose continued its push, with Evander Kane scoring the game winner at 9:40 in the period. He jumped on a loose puck, firing it through the legs of Eriksson Ek to give his team a 2-1 lead.

About three minutes later, Scott Reedy extended the lead with the Barracuda’s first shorthanded goal of the game. The Gulls’ goaltender made the initial save, but Reedy battled at the front of the net for the rebound and his 13th goal of the season.

Reedy leads all AHL rookies in goals and is third among first-years with 13-9=22 points.

The game wasn’t a total loss though. Gulls fans awaited the chance to participate in the team’s Teddy Bear Toss, an annual event when they can throw stuffed animals onto the ice following the team’s first goal.

After Groulx’s goal, the bears flew, with players and staff joining to collect the toys. The Gulls will donate the bears to several local charities, including Ronald McDonald House, SAY San Diego, Father Joe’s Villages.

The Gulls’ home stand continues at 7 p.m. Wednesday as they welcome the division-leading Stockton Heat to Pechanga.