April 23, 2017 - American Hockey League (AHL) - San Diego Gulls
ONTARIO, Calif. - Nick Sorensen scored two goals in a span of 31 seconds early in the first period to give the San Diego Gulls a 2-1 victory over the Ontario Reign and even the best-of-five series, 1-1, tonight at Citizens Business Bank Arena. Gulls goaltender Jhonas Enroth (1-1) made 23 saves as the series now shifts back to San Diego for Game 3 on Friday, Apr. 21 at Valley View Casino Center (7 p.m.).
"I love the way our guys responded," said Gulls head coach Dallas Eakins. "It started last night after the game. I was reading some of the media clips and I loved how our guys were supporting each other. I think that rolled right into today. We were very calm, we knew what our task was and we were able to get it done."
The Gulls opened the scoring on the power play at 4:43 of the first period on Sorensen's first career playoff goal. The Swedish rookie picked up a loose puck off the rush and blasted a slap shot past Ontario goaltender Jack Campbell (1-1) to give the Gulls an early 1-0 lead.
Sorensen struck again 31 seconds later, this time finishing off a two-on-one rush with Antoine Laganiere to double San Diego's advantage only 4:54 into the contest. Sorensen's tallies marked the earliest two goals scored from the start of a postseason game in Gulls history. The previous mark (8:51 into the first period) was set in Game 3 of the Pacific Division Semifinals on Apr. 28, 2016 vs. Texas.
The teams traded chances the rest of the opening frame and Enroth made some spectacular saves to keep the Reign off the board. His best stop coming off Mike Amadio's partial breakaway late in the first stanza.
Ontario cut the Gulls' lead in half at 3:29 of the second period when Cameron Schilling's centering pass from behind the net found Mike Amadio who chipped the puck past Enroth. The Reign continued to control play and generated multiple grade-A chances throughout the first 10 minutes of the middle frame. A mishandle by Enroth almost led to the tying goal, but Nic Kerdiles slid into the crease to make a save of his own to keep San Diego's lead intact.
"It's real nice," said Sorensen on the win. "They came out hard in the second and that was a bad period from our side, but I think in the third we controlled it and finished it off in a good way."
San Diego looked to build on its lead when Ontario defenseman Vincent LoVerde took a holding penalty late in the second stanza. The Gulls generated a few good looks, including Spencer Abbott's chance from the side of the net that was snatched out of the air by Campbell to keep the score 2-1 after 40 minutes of play.
An intense final frame saw Ontario outshoot the Gulls by a 9-5 margin, but Enroth was up to the task. San Diego played a great defensive period by keeping the Reign to the outside and clearing multiple dangerous rebounds in front of Enroth late in the game to seal the win.
The Gulls return home for Game 3 next Friday, Apr. 28, at Valley View Casino Center (7 p.m.) A limited number of tickets are available by visiting AXS.com/Gulls or by phone at (619) 359-4730.