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Gulls stop Stockton Heat with 3-2 win

SAN DIEGO — Corey Tropp scored twice, including the game-winner midway through the third period, as the San Diego Gulls defeated the Stockton Heat, 3-2, Wednesday evening for their team-record-tying sixth consecutive home victory.

Tropp put in the rebound of a shot by defenseman Keaton Thompson for a power-play goal with nine minutes, five seconds to play before a crowd at Valley View Casino Center announced at 5,567.

“That was a lucky goal,” said Tropp, who leads the team with 20 goals and 50 points. “We got shots through on the power play and I was in the right spot at the right time.”

Tropp gave the Gulls a 2-0 lead 16:17 into the first period when he put the rebound from a shot by Thompson from the point past Stockton goaltender David Rittich.

The Heat (26-24-4-1) tied the score on Garnet Hathaway’s second-period goal and defenseman Michael Kostka’s goal 5:42 into the third period.

The Gulls opened the scoring 7:17 into the first period when Max Gortz chipped in a centering feed from defenseman Stu Bickel for his third goal of the season and first since Jan. 25 at Tucson, 20 games ago.

“That game had a bit of a playoff atmosphere to it,” Gulls coach Dallas Eakins said after his team won for the 17th time in its last 21 games, improving to 35-15-3-2.

“There were two evenly-matched teams out there and I think the score shows that.”

This is the third time this season the Gulls have won six consecutive games at Valley View Casino Center. They also won their first six home games last season, their first in the American Hockey League.

Goaltender Dustin Tokarski made 15 of his 34 saves in the second period for the Gulls, the Anaheim Ducks AHL affiliate.

The Gulls killed all four of Stockton’s power-play opportunities and scored on one of their three.

Rittich made 30 saves for the Heat, the Calgary Flames American Hockey League affiliate.

Bickel also assisted on Tropp’s first goal for his first multi-point game since Feb. 26, 2015 when he played with the Iowa Wild, the Minnesota Wild’s AHL affiliate.

The Gulls will begin a two-game series against the San Antonio Rampage, the Colorado Rockies AHL affiliate, Friday in Texas.

Their next game at Valley View Casino Center will be next Wednesday against the San Jose Barracuda, the San Jose Sharks AHL affiliate.