Gulls Celebrate Mexican Heritage Night, Drop Off Weekend Series in Milwaukee


November 5, 2022

By Brett Pickler/

The San Diego Gulls dropped their weekend streak against the Milwaukee Admirals, losing 3-1 on the team’s first-ever Mexican Heritage Night tonight at Pechanga Arena San Diego.

“We’re definitely starting to move in the right direction,” Gulls right winger Bryce Kindopp said after the game. “We’re starting to do a lot of good things and if we keep playing this way some rebounds are going to start going our way but we definitely still have a lot to work on. So keep going in the right direction and some things to work on and we need to turn them into wins.”

The Gulls fed on the energy of a crowd celebrating and acknowledging Mexican culture, which included a rousing rendition of the American and Mexican national anthems by Mariachi Continental of San Diego, the Gulls. An aggressive forecheck from the front Dmitry Osipov. He delivered a massive shot below the goal line, creating a chance in front of the net. San Diego continued that momentum on the power play.

Looking to take an early lead, the Gulls showed off their playmaking abilities. They dissected the Admirals’ shorthanded position, moving the puck at will while creating multiple scoring opportunities. Forward Jacob Perreault slipped a cross pass between the legs of a Milwaukee defender for a Grade A opportunity as the penalty expired.

After a scrimmage in the San Diego zone, the ice opened up as the teams skated 4-on-4. Milwaukee took control of the puck and skated onto the ice on an odd run, taking the lead on a backdoor of former Gull Keaton Thompson with 5:11 left in the first.

The early deficit didn’t faze the Gulls and with time running out in the first period, they restored the pressure in the offensive zone. Forward Rocco Grimaldi snuck out the back door, getting ready for a one-timer. He fired a shot on net, but was stolen by Admirals goaltender Devin Cooley’s tight blocker. Defender Austin Beach continued the attack by intercepting a pass and firing one last shot before the end of the period.

The Gulls flew out of the gates to open the second period, making it clear that their battle with the Admirals was far from over. All four lines controlled the puck and dominated in the offensive zone, forcing Milwaukee to ice the puck multiple times to break up the onslaught.

“It’s definitely a huge part when you can roll all four lines and get energy,” Kindopp said. “It makes the game a lot easier, it gives the front lines a bit more rest and then the other lines can try to get some energy. It kind of puts everything into a rhythm. When everyone is playing, the energy is really high so that’s a huge part as well.”

San Diego almost tied the game when Grimaldi stole the puck as the Admirals came out of their zone. He went on a breakaway but couldn’t get enough on the shot after being checked from behind.

A late power-play opportunity turned the tide, as Milwaukee broke through to extend their lead to 2-0 with less than two minutes left midway through the period. San Diego’s penalty kill had allowed only one power play in its last 23 chances, but the streak was cut short by Philip Tomasino’s power play count.

Going into the third period down 2-0, the Gulls continued their attack. Forward Hunter Drew for the last frame with a huge hit on the forecheck. Strand followed suit with a hit on the ice in the neutral zone.

Those hits gave the Gulls a second wind. They pushed the pace throughout the period, generating rush after rush. Grimaldi seemed to take control of the game at this point, throwing his body and leading the attacking push. Despite this, San Diego couldn’t break through Milwaukee’s defense.

The luck of the Gulls has returned to the center Benoit-Olivier Groulx threw a puck out of the area to regroup. The puck rebounded favorably, giving possession to San Diego. Perreault received a pass and rounded the defender for a breakaway. Shooting the puck to his backhand, he covered the puck and cut the Admirals’ lead in half. left wing Pavol Regenda recorded an assist, extending his first career AHL point streak to three games.

“I mean it was kind of a breakdown on our end,” Perreault explained. “The puck just came off. Reggie (Gulls forward Pavol Regenda) got it. He kind of passed it to me and then I, you know, there was the D coming at me. J Tried to push it around he got it Back to Reggie Reggie gave it back to me then I kind of had a little breakaway and just tried to fake the goalie and going towards my backhand. A lot of things happened, but it felt good to put it home. At the end of the day, we didn’t win, so that’s what matters. “

From there, the physicality on both sides began to pick up. Every time a player took possession of the puck, he was immediately hit. This reached a boiling point at 2:45 p.m. as the gulls moved forward Sam Carrick caught the attention of Juuso Parssinen. Both players attempted to drop the gloves but were held back before any punches could be thrown, making it 4v4.

San Diego continued to pressure the Admirals but couldn’t find the back of the net. In the final minute, the Gulls fired their goalie in a last-ditch effort to even the score. They were unable to mount an attack as former Gull Kiefer Sherwood froze the game at 3-1 with an empty net goal.

Olle Eriksson Ek played excellent in that contest, stopping 31 of 33 shots to give the Gulls a consistent advantage throughout the game.

“I thought he had competed,” Gulls head coach said Roy Sommer said. “You know what, he’s had a great two weeks of training. I have to give it to him. He struggled in training, didn’t get a lot of playing time (or) starts. He came this evening and gave us the opportunity to win.”


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