Gulls come from behind to beat Iowa Wild in overtime
SAN DIEGO – Center Ryan White scored his first goal in his seven games with the San Diego Gulls one minute, 27 seconds into overtime Saturday evening to bring a 4-3 victory over the Iowa Wild in Des Moines, Iowa.
Giovanni Fiore was skating in on a breakaway against oncoming Iowa goaltender Niklas Svedberg when he was hauled down by a Wild defender. Fiore and Svedberg collided, allowing White to shoot the puck into an unguarded net as the Gulls completed a comeback from a two-goal third-period deficit.
“You are taught as a kid that if the guy has a breakaway to just keep your feet moving and follow up for a rebound,” White said. “It kind of worked out in my favor tonight. I was a little shocked when I got the puck and to have the open net and I wanted to make sure that I put it away.”
White also assisted on the Gulls first goal for his second point with the team. The 29-year-old from Brandon, Manitoba signed a professional tryout agreement with the Gulls on Nov. 17 after splitting the 2016-17 season between the NHL’s Arizona Coyotes and Minnesota Wild.
The victory in the finale of a season-long five-game road trip was the third in the last four games for the Gulls (10-11-1-0), who moved from last in American Hockey League’s eight-team Pacific Division into fifth.
“We really wanted to get this one,” said center Eric Fehr, who scored the Gulls first two goals. “It was important for us to finish off the road trip on a positive note and I thought we brought great energy in the third and made a good effort in the comeback.”
The Gulls tied the score with 11:18 left in regulation when Kalle Kossila took a pass from Corey Tropp and put a shot over Svedberg’s glove. Mitch Hults was also credited with an assist.
Fehr cut the deficit to 3-2 when he scored his second goal of the game with 9:25 remaining in regulation off assists by Scott Sabourin and Steve Oleksy before a crowd at Wells Fargo Arena announced at 6,922.
Following a scoreless first period, Iowa (11-8-5-0) took a 2-0 lead on Mario Lucia’s unassisted goal 5:44 into the second period and Sam Anas’ score 2:13 later.
The Gulls have been held scoreless in the first period 11 of their past 14 games.
Fehr scored the Gulls first goal 9:58 into the second period off assists by Alex Dostie and White.
The Wild, the Minnesota Wild’s AHL affiliate, regained a two-goal lead on Justin Kloos’ power-play goal 1:00 into the third period.
The Gulls allowed one power-play goal in two opportunities Saturday. They have allowed 11 power-play goals in their past eight games.
The Gulls are last in penalty killing in the 30-team AHL at 73.8 percent. The Toronto Marlies, the Toronto Maple Leafs’ AHL affiliate, lead the league with a 90.4 percentage, while Iowa is second at 88.8 percent.
The Gulls were scoreless on three power-play opportunities, but still have the best power play in the AHL, scoring 23.1 percent of the time. The Manitoba Moose, the Winnipeg Jets AHL affiliate, is second, scoring on 22.4 percent of their power-play opportunities.
The Gulls, the Anaheim Ducks AHL affiliate, outshot the Wild, 34-21, including a 16-7 advantage in the third period. This was the fourth time in 19 games the Gulls outshot their opponent.
Reto Berra (4-2-0-0) made 18 saves for his third consecutive victory. Svedberg (6-7-2-0) made 30 saves.
The Gulls announced earlier Saturday they had recalled defenseman James Melindy from the Utah Grizzlies, their primary ECHL affiliate, for the third time this season. He took two shots Saturday and was on the ice when Iowa scored its first goal.
The Gulls traded their leading scorer, right wing Spencer Abbott to the Binghamton Devils, the New Jersey Devils AHL affiliate, Friday in exchange for future considerations. Abbott had a team-high 14 assists and shared the team lead with six goals.
The Gulls will begin a three-game homestand at the Valley View Casino Center Wednesday against the Stockton Heat, the Calgary Flames’ AHL affiliate.