Gulls return home to stop Roadrunners in 5-2 win

SAN DIEGO – Adam Cracknell and Kalle Kossila each had a goal and an assist as the San Diego Gulls defeated the Tucson Roadrunners, 5-2, Wednesday evening at Pechanga Arena San Diego.

Cracknell opened the scoring one minute, 35 seconds into the game off assists by Kossila and Jack Kopacka. Tucson goaltender Adin Hill stopped a shot by Kossila, who controlled the rebound and passed back to Cracknell, who scored his 11th goal of the season and seventh in his last nine games.

Sam Carrick gave the Gulls the lead for good with a power-play goal 11:51 into the first period.

The goal was Carrick’s 26th of the season, extending his team record. Carrick is third in the American Hockey League in goal-scoring, one behind Chicago Wolves left wing Daniel Carr and center Joel L’Esperance, who scored 27 for the Texas Stars before being recalled by their NHL parent team, the Dallas Stars, on Friday.

The Gulls increased their lead to 3-1 on Sam Steel’s shorthanded goal at 14:26 of the first period.

Kossila gave the Gulls a 4-1 lead 8:34 into the second period when he put a wrist shot past Hill  off assists by Cracknell and former Roadrunners defenseman Trevor Murphy, who was facing his former team for the first time since Tucson’s NHL parent team, the Arizona Coyotes, traded him to the Gulls NHL parent team, the Anaheim Ducks on Dec. 28 in exchange for left wing Giovanni Fiore.

Fiore did not have a point Wednesday in his first game against his former team.

Gulls center Chase De Leo recorded his second assist of the game on Kiefer Sherwood’s goal 13:39 into the second period. De Leo also assisted on Steel’s shorthanded goal.

The assists gave De Leo 24 for the season, the most in his four seasons in the AHL. He had 23 with the Manitoba Moose in the 2017-18 season.

Roadrunners right wing Hudson Fasching tied the score, 1-1, 5:11 into the first period with an unassisted shorthanded goal on a breakaway.

Tucson (25-17-4-2) center Jeremy Gregoire put a shot between Gulls goaltender Jeff Glass’ legs 1:09 into the third period for the game’s final goal.

The Gulls led in shots, 37-36, including a 20-12 advantage in the first period.

Glass made 33 saves and assisted on Carrick’s power-play goal as his record improved to 9-7-0-2 and 6-3-0-1 with the Gulls since being acquired Dec. 10 from the AHL’s Toronto Marlies in exchange for future considerations.

“He’s been awesome,” De Leo said. “Every night he gives us a chance and tonight I think he literally stood on his head for a couple saves. He’s doing a great job back there and he gives the group in front of him a lot of confidence.”

Hill (8-7-1-1) made 32 saves before a crowd announced at 6,222.

The Gulls scored on one of their three power plays and killed both of the Roadrunners power-play opportunities.

“We had a couple of big kills,” Gulls coach Dallas Eakins said. “I think our penalty kill is slowing improving. We’ve changed some things on it and I think we’ve been rewarded for it.

“The power play was good. We got one and also had a couple of really good looks. That’s important. If you can go into the game and get one on the power play and give up nothing on the penalty kill, you’re going to have good nights.”

The victory moved the Gulls (28-16-3-3) into a tie for second in the Pacific Division with the idle San Jose Barracuda (28-12-2-4) who have played four fewer games. Both teams have 62 points.

Earlier Wednesday, the Ducks assigned 34-year-old right wing Patrick Eaves to the Gulls. Eaves had an assist in five games with the Gulls in January. He did not have a point Wednesday.

The Gulls will conclude the two-game homestand Saturday by playing host to the San Antonio Rampage, the St. Louis Blues AHL affiliate.

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