Gulls Drop penultimate regular season game at Tucson

April 28, 2022

By AJ Manderichio/SanDiegoGulls.com

The San Diego Gulls lost the penultimate game of their regular season, losing 6-2 to the Tucson Roadrunners tonight at the Tucson Convention Center Arena.

“It went wrong after the first period,” Gulls head coach said Joel Bouchard mentioned. “I thought we were decent in the first. Obviously we’re setting up for the playoffs and then we went flat in the second, which isn’t what you’d like as a coach and probably as a coach. The game got away from us and I think we kind of lost our legs, we lost some players on the road as well.

“We’re playing with a bit of a depleted roster right now with injuries and guys in the NHL, so we’re fighting through this last little streak here. We’ll put Lucas Dostal back in the net tomorrow, give him one last game. A lot of what we do is work on our game to get ready for the playoffs, but tonight that slipped away from us.”

Colin Theisen led the way with a career-high 1-2=3 points to help the Roadrunners end a four-game winless streak. Travis Barron, Stephen Harper, Cameron Hebig and Matias Maccelli all had multi-point performances, supporting a 16-save effort from rookie goaltender Rasmus Korhonen.

Alexandre Limoges and Greg Printz scored for the Gulls, who saw Olle Eriksson Ek stopping 27 shots in the loss.

The Gulls jumped on Tucson early, taking a one-goal lead just after halftime of the period.

With the teams skating 4-on-4, the Gulls defenseman Drew Hellison took charge, driving the puck through the neutral zone and into the Tucson zone. He cut through the middle of the ice, finding Jacob Larson cutting off from his defensive position. He froze the defense before sending a cross pass to Limoges, who fired a one-time shot past Korhonen’s slide for his team-leading 23rd goal of the season.

The tally also extends his point streak to four games (2-2=4) and gives him 40 points (23-17=40) this season. Limoges is the fourth rookie in team history in the American Hockey League to achieve this record and the first since the 2018-19 season (Sam Steel, Troy Terry – 41).

“Well, I like that we’re on assignment about a few things that we talked about playing against Ontario and I think we did well there,” Bouchard said. “I don’t think we created much in attack. I thought we should have been, could have been more dynamic. That being said, we didn’t give much and we were leading 1-0, so I I felt that in the second, we could perhaps take one more report.”

The Roadrunners – who failed to qualify for the 2022 Calder Cup qualifiers – came out as part of the midfield looking like a team determined to end their season strong.

Theisen leveled the score just 25 seconds into the middle period.

The Roadrunners quickly went from defense to attack, with Cole Hults finding the cut Theisen in the neutral zone. The undrafted rookie went down the wing, battling a stick check and whipping a top shelf for his fifth goal of the year.

Travis Barron gave Tucson their first lead of the game, scoring shorthanded with 7:55 left in the second frame.

The Roadrunners returned the puck to the blue line and raced up the ice on a 2-on-1 run. Hebig’s aerial pass went over the stick of a prone Nikolas Brouillard and to Barron in front, who tapped the puck past Eriksson Ek for his 12th goal of the season.

Terry Broadhurst would hit just 1:31 seconds later, pushing Tucson’s lead to two.

The Roadrunners took advantage of a turnover in the defensive zone, Theisen carrying the puck on the wing. He caught the eye of three gulls, threading a pass through the oncoming defense and onto a cutting Broadhurst. The left winger slipped the puck past Eriksson Ek at the far post for his 10th goal of the season.

Tucson added late in the period, Ty Emberson scoring on the faceoff for the Roadrunners’ fourth goal of the period. It was a season high for second-period goals against by the Gulls, matching Ontario’s reigning four-goal production on Feb. 4.

Printz stopped the run, bringing the Gulls within two with 52.4 seconds remaining in the second. The forward forced Hults into a turnover and rounded the defender, moving away from the side boards and moving onto the net. He used a toe drag to maneuver past Doyle Somerby before finishing with a backhand shot past diver Korhonen for his 11th goal of the season.

Harper restored Tucson’s three-goal lead, finishing off a pass from Hudson Fasching with less than six minutes left in regulation for his first multi-point performance of the season.

Hebig gave Tucson its biggest lead of the game — a four-goal cushion — with 27 seconds left in regulation time, finishing a chance ahead for his 13th goal of the season. Maccelli collected his second assist on the count and finished the night leading all skaters with seven assists.

Those goals underlined a strong final period for the Roadrunners, who outshot the Gulls 16-5 despite heading after 40 minutes.

“It’s one of those things,” Bouchard said of the loss. “Guys don’t want to get injured, guys are thinking about next week. Obviously they’re in games that don’t mean anything to us, but you still have to keep the level of competition a bit higher. Then, , can -maybe sometimes you’re also challenged by the importance of the game or something, so I’m looking for more of a little jam tomorrow It’s always that fine line – guys don’t want to get hurt, you want make sure you’re fresh for the playoffs, they’re right around the corner, but on the other hand, you gotta make sure you keep that jam that got us through.

“You look at the streak where in February we had a very good streak as a team with a lot of young players playing very well, but we were tough. As we were, I challenged them to be much tougher that maybe they’ve been in the past or they used to and we’ve had success tonight the good news about that is if we don’t play that type of hockey then it’s gonna get away from us And that’s what happened.

Both teams wrap up the regular season tomorrow night at 7:00 p.m. PT.

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