San Diego Gulls

San Diego Stopped by Calgary

December 3, 2022 - American Hockey League (AHL)
San Diego Gulls News Release

The San Diego Gulls fell 7-3 to the Calgary Wranglers tonight at Pechanga Arena San Diego, bringing their record to 6-15-0-0 overall and 2-9-0-0 at home.

Justin Kirkland posted a pair of points (1-1=2), including his 100th American Hockey League assist and his third goal of the season.

Rocco Grimaldi started the scoring for the Gulls one minute into the game, extending his goal streak to a season-high third consecutive game (4-0=4). Grimaldi continues to lead the Gulls in goals and scoring lead with 10-11=21 points.

Benoit-Olivier Groulx earned his 11th assist on the play and continues to rank second in team scoring.

Nikolas Brouillard netted his third power-play goal of the season at 10:22 of the first frame, finishing the game tied for second among AHL blueliners in man-advantage tallies. Brouillard's 5-10=15 points this season leads Gulls blueliners in goals and points.

Danny O'Regan earned his fourth assist in four games for a team-best 14 helpers this season, while Austin Strand (0-1=1) and Jacob Perreault (0-1=1) also contributed assists.

Olle Eriksson Ek made 21 saves on 28 shots in the loss.

San Diego has seven power-play goals in their last seven contests, operating at a 23.8 % success rate (5-for-21).

The Gulls will play in the second of four consecutive games against the Wranglers tomorrow, Dec. 3 at Pechanga Arena San Diego (7 p.m. PST).


Gulls center Justin Kirkland

On earning his 100th career AHL assist:

I mean, to be honest, I didn't know until after the game until one of the guys had told me. Yeah, exciting accomplishment against the old team like that is pretty cool. But you know what, at the end of the day, I would have rather had the two points in a win. Yeah, nice accomplishment for myself. But you know, right back to the drawing board and get ready for the game tomorrow.

On his second-period goal:

Danny O'Regan made a great play. Nice little pass me on the outside and had a little bit of a step on the d-man, and I just knew I wanted to take it to the net. You know, obviously, I'd seen that goalie a lot last year with all the practices and all that stuff against him. He's a fantastic goalie himself. So, you know, I'm happy to score that. Felt extra nice against the old team.

On what the team can take from the loss to Calgary:

I think we saw the areas that we need to clean up. You know, we went over some details ahead of time that we lacked a little bit in the d(efensive) zone. They're a very strong offensive team with a lot of talent up front and we need to find a way to kill some plays in our own zone a little bit quicker. We know that they're looking in the slot; we got to take that away. And you know what, we have these guys three more times. You know, tonight's not the end of it. We got to really turn the page quick and get ready for tomorrow night. This is going to be another good test.

On finding momentum against the Wranglers:

It's huge. You know, we've obviously been fighting a little bit lately and struggling, which, you know, frustration starts to creep in. Guys start gripping their sticks a little bit too tight. You know, we're trying to preach in there to loosen up, enjoy the moment that we're in and play for each other. Our poor goalies right now, you know, throughout this whole season, I mean, standing on their head every single night and we've let them down most nights. There's a lot of credit due to them. You know, Dosty (Gulls goaltender Lukas Dostal) and Olle (Eriksson Ek), both fantastic goalies (that) have done a good job for us. You know what, we want to put in a good effort for them.

Gulls defenseman Austin Strand

On the loss to the Calgary Wranglers:

I thought our first period was one of our better first periods in a while. We're able to get some goals and think just yesterday on practice we worked on being predictable in the neutral zone there and just, you know, knowing where the next play is going to go and not having the kind of second guess where it's going or turn it over. We're trying to work on advancing plays forward to get them into the o(ffensive) zone instead of, you know, trying to make a play and turning it over and coming back. I thought we stuck really well with that first and then kind of got away from it a little bit in the second and third, and got a little bit ugly. They're a good team; can't be turning the puck over like that.

On improving for tomorrow's matchup against the Wranglers:

I mean, we liked our first period. We tweaked a couple things in the d(efensive) zone. They really like to have that third guy high in the d(efensive) zone. They have two d(efensemen) and a forward who kind of stays out really high. We just have to make sure that we're there. It's like a shared roll with that, with our high forward and that d-man. They had a couple goals where they had that guy high who just had so much time. They're really good at getting it to that middle guy. We just have to watch that guy; be more cognizant of that guy and should be a lot better.

On facing Calgary in their next three consecutive games:

Yeah, definitely just trying to invest in every hit, even right to the end of the whistle, making sure you're kind of not doing anything sloppy. You know, so many periods in a row against these guys. You got to take it period by period, trying to win every period. Yes, we got these guys a few more times. Just trying to invest; little hits and just smart plays throughout the whole game.

Gulls assistant coach Jason Clarke

On the loss to the Calgary Wranglers:

I just thought that we had three around the puck a lot in the offensive zone and we didn't turn as many pucks over in the neutral zone as we had in prior games. That's something that we discussed as a team and as a staff this morning, and I thought we executed that part of the game pretty well tonight.

On the performance of the penalty kill:

The penalty kill was just okay tonight. I mean, I think our forecheck needs to tighten up a little bit but our in zone was okay. We're playing these guys for four games in a row. So, it'll be interesting to see the adjustments that both teams are going to make for tomorrow night. It should make for an interesting game.

On the mindset going into tomorrow's game against Calgary:

I think it's more of like a playoff series to be honest. That's what we kind of talked about this morning, that's we're playing the four games. It's kind of like a little miniseries so they took game one and you know, we just got to rally the troops here and dust off a little bit here and get back for tomorrow night.

On gaining momentum against the Wranglers:

We thought we did a really good job through the neutral zone and not turning the pucks over and creating a lot more chances. The last couple of games, we hadn't been very good in the offensive zone at all, and a lot of teams were getting a lot of clean exits on us coming out of the o(ffensive) zone. We needed to really make sure that we were competing a little bit more and cutting the rink in half. We had quite a few good chances to score tonight, and had some offensive zone time and sustained pressure. We need that obviously moving forward to score a few more goals, but we just need to tighten up defensively. A couple of sloppy mistakes that we haven't really been making over the last couple of games and it was just unfortunate we played that poor defensively.

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