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Gulls and Wolves Tied 1-1
By Thomas Harrington
Two games in, and the Gulls and Wolves have each won one game in the Western Conference Finals. San Diego accomplished its goal as the road team: get a win in Chicago before returning home for three straight games.
Wolves Take Game 1
Game one didn’t start great for the Gulls, as Chicago opened the scoring just over six minutes into the first. However, with less than thirty seconds to go in the period, Corey Tropp tied the game. About halfway through the second, Chicago took the lead again. With just over a minute to go in the second, Maxime Comtois tied the game. Less than six minutes into the third, Chicago took their third lead of the night. A few minutes later, Andy Welinski scored on the powerplay to tie the game again. Halfway through the period, Adam Cracknell sent a long pass down the ice. Comtois chased the puck down to cancel out the icing call and scored to give San Diego their first lead of the night. Late in the third, Chicago had great pressure and scored to tie the game at 4-4.
Regulation ended, and San Diego once again found themselves heading to overtime. The extra session was back and forth, but then Chicago got a lucky break. In the neutral zone, Chase De Leo slashed the stick out of Cody Glass’ hands. No call was made on the play and Glass went to the bench to get a new stick. As he turned around, San Diego turned the puck over to Chicago. It was quickly passed up to Glass, he went in alone on the breakaway, and won the game 5-4. If that penalty had been called, Chicago would have had a powerplay and a great chance to end the game, but the Gulls would have had a chance to kill it off and win the game later. This is the rare case where the Gulls would have preferred the penalty be called on them in overtime. This was only San Diego’s second road loss of the playoffs, both coming in overtime.
Gulls Respond In Game 2
Game two was the next night, and after playing in most of San Diego’s games, Jeff Glass was given the night off and Kevin Boyle was the starter. Less than seven minutes into the game, Cracknell took the puck to the net and was stopped, but Sam Carrick scored on the rebound, giving the Gulls the early 1-0 lead. This was only the fourth time this postseason where the Gulls scored the first goal. In the second, playing in his first game of the series and just his third of the playoffs, Jack Kopacka had a good chance in the slot. It was blocked, but he picked up the rebound and immediately shot again. It was a perfect shot, giving San Diego the 2-0 lead. In the third, Chicago was really pushing; at one point, they were outshooting San Diego 9-0. However, Boyle stood strong, and eventually, the Wolves pulled their goalie for the extra attacker. With the net empty, Sam Steel scored to give the Gulls a 3-0 win. It was San Diego’s first shutout of the playoffs, as well as the first game that Boyle was able to finish. The Gulls are now 4-0 when scoring first in the playoffs.
The next three games will all be in San Diego. Game three will be on Wednesday, game four will be on Friday, and game five will be on Saturday. If necessary, games six and seven will be back in Chicago. By winning in Chicago, the Gulls have given themselves a chance to really take control of this series at home, if not win it outright. However, to do that, they are going to need to play their three best games of the playoffs. Chicago is an excellent team with more offensive firepower than San Diego has seen this postseason.
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May 21st, 2019