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 San Diego Gulls

Gulls Top Firebirds, 4-3, In Shootout

April 21, 2024 - American Hockey League (AHL)
San Diego Gulls News Release

The San Diego Gulls defeated the Coachella Valley Firebirds 4-3 in a shootout Sunday afternoon in Acrisure Arena. San Diego's final record is 26-35-10-1.

Nikita Nesterenko scored a goal and earned two assists to give him four points in his last two games (1-3=4). All three points came in the first period, tying the Gulls record for points in a single period (19 times, last: G. Gawdin, Feb. 10, 2024 @ CGY). He ends the season leading Gulls rookie skaters in points (15-21=36), goals and assists.

Andrew Agozzino extended his goal streak to three games, scoring twice to give him four goals in that span (4-0=4). He ends the season as the Gulls' leader in points (26-38=64), goals and assists.

Drew Helleson picked up his fourth assist in three games, giving him an AHL career-high 14 helpers on the season. Helleson's 4-14=18 points match his season total from 2022-23 in five fewer games (5-13=18 in 65 games).

Judd Caulfield earned two assists, his third multi-assist and fifth multi-point effort of the season.

Sasha Pastujov netted the shootout winner.

Tomas Suchanek stopped 42-of-45 shots in regulation and OT to earn his 14th win of the season.



Left wing Nikita Nesterenko

On the first period:

We're just fortunate enough to get through a couple good shots. It was a good start. We weathered the storm there.

On how the team was able to rebound to get the win:

Just stick to it. Kind of the same thing happened yesterday, and we lost our composure so that was the big message from the coaches, that composure. Don't take any stupid penalties that we've weathered the storm. We're all happy

On the 2023-24 season:

A lot of ups and downs but whenever you can finish on a win, everybody's happy going back home. Just super grateful for the group we had. We had a lot of fun, a great group of guys, a lot of good leaders, a lot of good young guys, great coaching staff. We learned a lot. Hopefully we can carry it into next year. Just keep building.

On how he evaluates his season:

Just preparing for like that pro type of season. Obviously in college, we played 30-40 games. So, here's 70 games season plus if you make playoffs, close to 90 games. Just taking care of your body, learning how to get through those back-to-backs. It was a lot of fun even though we didn't make playoffs. Just a lot of learning going on just your first year.

Head coach Matt McIlvane

On the team's start:

We thought we played well last night. We did a lot of good things. Our issue in the game last night was discipline and composure. That's where we unraveled and that's where the game got tied up. Seemed like we sort of picked up with the same sort of a start like we did the night before and then really, once we got down to five defensemen, which was soon after the first period, we were grinding and that's what it turned into. You know, Coachella is the best offensive team in our conference and you give them any life, and any space that they can bury, that's what they showed. I don't know, just a gutsy win. To be able to end the season with some smiles, it's a good thing.

On what was said during the third to keep composure:

Just thought it was good to take a break. It was a good time for a breather. The building was getting loud, give that a chance to quiet down. And then just for our guys, it's like what happened, happened. There's nothing we can do about it now, so, you can worry about your next shift and take care of your next opportunity, and just reset our focus. That's really all that timeout was. I felt like we had a little bit of a push after that, calm the building down and hung on to find a way to get two points.

On Tomas Suchanek:

He was awesome. That was part of the bleeding from being absent with defensemen, is zone time, and shot attempts, and he made some ten-bell saves today. Tomas has had a very strong season, it's a wonderful story. We've been fortunate to have three great goalies and he put an exclamation point on it today.

On what tonight's win means for this team:

I'm not sure that it's going to leak into next season, but to me, it puts some sort of an exclamation point on growth. I think, when you look back at the season, there was a phase for 13 games we couldn't win a hockey game, and when you look back at the video, how much learning we had to do, to be able to go and perform, even last night's game, played well against Coachella and I recognize they're missing some guys, but they still have enough that they're a very dangerous team. Just to me, it puts an exclamation point on growth and the development that's happening within our team. It's good for the guys to leave with a smile.

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