Sunday, December 19, 2004

Birbraer's goal hoists Gulls to win

By The Union Tribune
VICTORIA, British Columbia
It was a back-and-forth game all night long, but Max Birbraer's goal midway through the third period last night was the deciding factor as the Gulls beat the Victoria Salmon Kings for the second straight night, 5-4, before 2,283 at Bear Mountain Arena.

Birbraer, with 9:57 to go, pried loose the puck from Victoria goalie Jason Stone and poked it home for his team-leading eighth goal of the season.

With the victory, the Gulls (13-7-2) extended their winning streak to a season-high four games. It also moved them into third place in the West Division, now trailing the first-place Bakersfield Condors by only four points.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Another Sunday, Another Series Win for Gulls, Who Beat Aces, 4-3

By www.sandiegogulls.com

Sean O’ Connor was a day late but never better, hitting the game-winning goal with a little over a minute left in the third period to avoid consecutive collapses and clinch the three-game series win for the San Diego Gulls with a thrilling 4-3 triumph over the Alaska Aces on Sunday.
For the second straight night, the Gulls (10-7-2) let an early advantage slip away, but this time O’ Connor gave the fans a happy ending when he redirected a shot from Mike Garrow in front of the net with 1:13 left to seal the series win for San Diego, their second in as many weekends.
Despite the near comeback, the Aces (12-10-1) still had no answer for Max Birbraer, who involved himself in every San Diego goal, notching a pair of goals and assists. Birbraer has run amuck against Alaska in 2004, ringing up the Aces for ten of his 19 points.
A misplay by Gulls netminder Trevor Koenig provided the Aces with the opening goal only 27 seconds in. After Alaska cleared the puck into the boards near the left-wing circle, Koenig rushed out of the crease to knock the puck away, but Chris Heisten blocked his attempt and fed the puck to Jordan Cameron, who slid it into the empty net for his third goal of the season. Koenig made 19 stops in the contest.
San Diego capitalized on another goaltending error, made this time by Alaska netminder Peter Aubry, to level things up at 14:17 in the first. Aubry was in perfect position to stop Colin Shields’ backhander at the right post, but let the puck squib through his pads and across the crease, where it found its way onto Sylvain Deschatelets’ stick and into the net for the center’s fourth goal of the year.
Birbraer ripped the momentum away from the Aces with his sixth goal of the season, a slap-shot from the left-wing circle that put the Gulls ahead at 17:35. NHL veteran Curtis Brown earned the assist, taking the puck up the boards and kicking it back to the circle, where Birbraer, all alone, fired one into the top shelf. The goal capped off a strong opening frame for the Gulls, who took nine of the last ten shots in the period.
Birbraer nailed his second goal of the game at 6:51 in the second period to extend San Diego’s lead at 3-1. Andrew Canzanello, just inside the blue line, whipped a pass across the slot to Birbraer, who sent it past Aubry.
But the Aces kept right on the Gulls’ heels as Oliver Fillion notched a power-play goal from the right-wing circle at 12:23 in the second. With Deschatelets stewing in the box after a cross-checking call, Fillion took a pass from Mike Clarke and flicked a shot just above Koenig’s shoulder.
The Gulls tried valiantly to hold their lead in the beginning of the third, but eventually gave up the tying goal, a shot from just inside the blue line by Chris Minard, his 13th goal of the year, at 7:18.
Notes: The Gulls are now 6-2-0 on their season-long nine-game homestand… They are 9-2-1 overall on home ice and 1-5-1 on the road… San Diego has outscored its opponents 50-22 in its 10 wins, but has been outscored 31-13 in its nine losses (which includes an overtime and shootout loss)… Birbraer has thirteen points (6g, 7a) in his last six games while O’Connor has 11 points (7g, 4a) in his last five games. Birbraer now leads the Blue and Orange with 19 points (7g, 12a)…

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Birbraer piles up points as Gulls evade Aces

By: SANDY BURGIN - For the North County Times
SAN DIEGO
Max Birbraer, who had a career-high three assists a day earlier, scored a pair of goals and added two assists, including one on the game-winning goal Sunday, as the Gulls outlasted the Alaska Aces 4-3 before 3,408 fans at the Sports Arena.
The Gulls, who blew a 4-1 lead Saturday in losing to Alaska 5-4, lost a 3-1 lead Sunday when the Aces tied the game 3-3 at 7:18 of the third period on a goal by Chris Minard.
After failing to take advantage of five Alaska penalties in the final period and coming up empty on a 5-on-3 power play, Sean O'Connor, Birbraer and defenseman Mike Garrow came to the rescue.
O'Connor, perfectly positioned in front of Alaska goalie Peter Aubry, redirected Garrow's shot past goalie Peter Aubry with 1:13 left in regulation to snap the 3-3 deadlock.
Goalie Trevor Koenig held the lead over the final minute as the Gulls, who won two of three games from Alaska this weekend, improved to 10-7-2. The Aces are 12-10-1.
Birbraer, who assisted on the game-winner as well as Sylvain Deschatelets' tying goal in the first period, scored his sixth and seventh goals of the season earlier in the game. He has 13 points (six goals, seven assists) in his last six games.
O'Connor's goal was his seventh of the season and fourth in two nights. He also picked up an assist on Birbraer's second goal and has 11 points in his last five games.
"Garrow put it right on my stick," O'Connor said. "It was the easiest goal I've had all season. I really didn't have to move."
Said Birbraer: "Playing with Curtis Brown gives both Sean and myself more room. Sometimes two or three guys are on Curtis, and that opens things up for us."
Despite the victory, Gulls coach Martin St. Amour was not pleased with his club's play.
"It was another awful game again," St. Amour said. "We had a 3-1 lead and we backed down again, same as (Saturday). I don't know why. I told the players to talk to each other because I don't have the answer."

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Alaska Pulls An Ace In Third Period, Win 5-4

By www.sandiegogulls.com
SAN DIEGO
The San Diego Gulls carried a three-goal lead into the third period Saturday night, but the Alaska Aces scored four times in the final frame to stun the Blue and Orange 5-4, before 5,510 at the Sports Arena.
Chris Minard and Kimbi Daniels scored early in the third to start Alaska’s comeback. Charles Linglet and B.J. Young, who scored twice in the game, tallied 16 seconds apart later in the stanza and that was all she wrote.
The Aces’ come-from-behind win spoils career nights by San Diego’s Sean O’Connor and Max Birbraer. O’Connor netted his first career hat trick and added an assist, while Birbraer chipped in with a career-high three assists.
San Diego (9-7-2) remains sixth in the West Division, three points behind the fifth-place Las Vegas Wranglers. Alaska (12-9-1) stays in third place, two points behind the second seed Idaho Steelheads.
After having their way offensively with the Aces Thursday, the Gulls wasted no time getting on the scoreboard Saturday, drawing first blood 1:17 into the first period. O’Connor recorded the tally – his first of the night – off setup feeds from linemates Birbraer and Curtis Brown. After grabbing a pass at center ice, O’Connor barreled into the Aces zone and beat Alaska netminder Lance Mayes with a rising backhander.
Alaska tied it midway through the first on a power-play goal from Young. The Aces had the cycle going inside the San Diego zone and the puck eventually went to Joe Talbot, standing just outside the right circle. Talbot then whipped a pass across the crease to a wide-open Young, who punched it past Trevor Koenig for his first goal of the night.
O’Connor regained San Diego’s lead with his second goal of the night at 17:37 of the first. This time the Gulls were skating with the man advantage and moving it around the Alaska zone. Andrew Canzanello, stationed at the right point, took a feed from Birbraer and then slid a centering pass that O’Connor redirected home.
The Gulls opened a 4-1 lead with two goals 1:24 apart in the second period. O’Connor notched the first marker at 9:44, completing the hat trick. The San Diego winger picked up another feed from Birbraer, who earned his third assist of the game, and scooted into the Alaska zone. Mayes stopped his initial shot, but O’Connor was right there to slide in his own rebound for his third goal of the night – sixth of the season.
Moments after Birbraer dished the puck to O’Connor, he took a spear from Aces defenseman Ryan Bast, who was given a five-minute penalty and game misconduct. On the ensuing major power play, Talbot was whistled off for cross-checking. That gave the Gulls a full two-minute, two-man advantage.
The Blue and Orange wouldn’t need the full two minutes however, as Nikita Korovkin buried his fourth of year at 11:08, giving San Diego a three-goal cushion. After grabbing a pass from Canzanello, Korovkin walked into the slot and buried a wrister behind a beleaguered Mayes. O’Connor also garnered an assist on the play for his fourth point of the night.
The Aces scored back-to-back goals early in the third period, cutting the once San Diego commanding lead to one. Minard started the comeback with Alaska’s second power-play goal 25 seconds into the frame, beating Koenig on a redirection from Cal Benazic’s point shot. Then Daniels notched his fourth of the season at 7:04, converting a rebound from Jordan Cameron’s original bid.
Linglet tied the game, 4-4, at 14:24 with his sixth goal. Young then scored the game-winning tally 16 seconds later, banging in his second goal of the game – third of the season. There was a wild scramble in front of the net and after a few whacks, Young jammed it past Koenig.
Notes: The Gulls won their 500th game in franchise history Thursday against Alaska. That includes both regular season and playoff totals… San Diego is now 8-2-1 at home this season and 1-5-1 on the road… The Gulls have outscored their opponents 46-19 in their nine wins, but have been outscored 31-13 in their nine losses (which includes an overtime and shootout loss)… Birbraer has nine points (4g, 5a) in his last five games… O’Connor has nine points (6g, 3a) in his last four games… San Diego was 9-7-2 through 18 games last season… NHLer Scott Gomez didn’t make the trip to San Diego. He and many other NHL stars are in Europe participating in a charity hockey tournament… Mathieu Chouinard, who was called up to the American Hockey League’s Cincinnati Mighty Ducks, recorded a 1-0 shutout Saturday… Goaltender Eddy Ferhi was assigned to the Gulls by Cincinnati… Sean Murphy remains on the injured list with a fractured knuckle…

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Gulls Crush Alaska 5-2; Franchise's 500th Win

By www.sandiegogulls.com
Example
SAN DIEGO
The slogan remains “home sweet home” for the San Diego Gulls after a 5-2 route of the Alaska Aces Thursday night at the Sports Arena. The victory was the Gulls’ third straight and moves them up a spot in the West Division standings. It was also the franchises’ 500th career win, which includes the playoffs.
San Diego (9-6-2) is now tied for fifth in the West Division with the Long Beach Ice Dogs, eight points back of the first-place Bakersfield Condors. Alaska (11-9-1) remains tied for second in the division with the Idaho Steelheads, now only three points ahead of the Gulls.
Mark Pederson and Guillaume Fournier led the offensive attack for the Gulls, each recording a goal and an assist. NHL veteran Curtis Brown made his mark with his first goal in a San Diego uniform. Meanwhile, Trevor Koenig was steady in net, turning aside 22 of 24 shots.
The Blue and Orange opened a 2-0 lead on first-period goals from Brian Gornick and Brown. Gornick got things started with his fourth goal of the season at 2:10. After picking up a loose puck at center ice, he weaved past the Alaska defense and eventually beat goaltender Peter Aubry on the forehand.
Brown’s inaugural tally came at 7:16 after his linemate Sean O’Connor stole the puck in the right-wing corner. O’Connor then fed the slot to a wide-open Brown, who easily tapped it past Aubry.
The Aces came into the game with the league’s worst power play, but capitalized with the man advantage 3:38 into the second, cutting the San Diego lead in half. B.J. Young, playing in his first game of the season, took a pass from Charles Linglet and skated in two-on-one against Koenig. Young, however, wouldn’t need his teammate, as he buried a wrist shot past the Gulls netminder.
Pederson and Fournier answered with back-to-back goals minutes later, giving the Gulls a 4-1 lead. Pederson struck at 7:12, wrapping around the Aces net and slinging a shot past Aubry’s out-stretched glove for his fourth marker of the season. Fournier then knocked in his team-leading seventh goal at 9:07, converting on a rebound from Pederson’s original shot.
Max Birbraer capped the second-period scoring and gave San Diego a commanding four-goal cushion with a power-play marker at 16:15. Nikita Korovkin held in Alaska’s clearing attempt and punched the puck to Chris Lynch, standing along the left wing boards. Lynch then whipped a pass to Birbraer, who one-timed home his fifth goal.
Notes: The Gulls are now 8-1-1 at home this season and 1-5-1 on the road… In its nine wins, San Diego has outscored its opponents 46-18… The Gulls have been outscored 26-9 in their eight losses (which includes an overtime and shootout loss)… Birbraer has a goal in four straight games and has six points (4g, 2a) in that span… O’Connor has five points (3g, 2a) in his last three games… San Diego has killed 25 of its last 28 penalties… The Gulls were 9-6-2 through 17 games last season… NHLer Scott Gomez didn’t make the trip to San Diego. He and many other NHL stars are in Europe participating in a charity hockey tournament… Sean Murphy remains on the injured list with a fractured knuckle…

Monday, December 06, 2004

Behind persistent Birbraer, Gulls soar past Idaho

By Glae Thien
SPECIAL TO THE UNION-TRIBUNE
The Gulls' Max Birbraer broke out of an early-season slump by scoring a goal per game in three weekend outings with the Idaho Steelheads. Easily the most dramatic came in the series finale as the Gulls won 4-2 in the deciding game of the series against the defending Kelly Cup champions.

Birbraer recorded the tying goal with 2:10 left in a comeback from a two-goal deficit, then he assisted on the go-ahead score by Sean O'Connor with 33.7 seconds left.

"Much of the game, we had so many chances, but we couldn't put it in," said Birbraer, who came into the weekend with one goal on the season. "But we stuck with it. With five to six minutes left, we went at it even a little harder in a live-or-die situation."

The Gulls first converted at 2:57 into the third period, when Darren Clark recorded his first goal in six outings. Clark was back on the ice after sitting out Saturday's game. That cut the Gulls' deficit to 2-1 just 1:47 after Idaho's Lance Galbraith scored his second goal of the game.

The Gulls (8-6-2) ultimately added an empty-net goal by Chris Lynch to close out their fourth victory in five games before 3,640 at the Sports Arena.

Gulls goaltender Trevor Koenig had 18 saves in a follow-up to his 5-2 victory over the Steelheads (11-7-1) on Saturday.

"We worked hard, and we were rewarded," Birbraer said. "We wanted to see what we're made of against a really good team like Idaho."

Defenseman Eugenie Nourislamov assisted on the tying goal, giving him seven points in the past five games.

The Gulls trailed in the first period for the first time during the series after Galbraith scored at 7:12 into the game.

Gulls Stretch Rubber Game To Limit, But Beat Idaho 4-2

SAN DIEGO
Forget Ocean’s Eleven. The Gulls pulled off an amazing caper Sunday evening at the Sports Arena, scoring three goals in the final three minutes to snatch victory away from the defending Kelly Cup champion Idaho Steelheads with a 4-2 triumph to win the three-game weekend set.
With their offense lapsing and time winding down, it seemed like the Gulls (8-6-2) were headed for another letdown. However, San Diego found its goal-scoring weapons as Max Birbraer tied things up with about two minutes to play and Sean OEConnor hit the game-winner with 34 seconds left to rob the Steelheads (11-7-1) of a win that would have broken a second-place tie with the Alaska Aces. Chris Lynch hit an empty-net goal 20 seconds later to seal the deal for the San Diego. Gulls goaltender Trevor Koenig was a key accomplice, making 18 stops.
For the third-straight night, the Gulls made a mockery of the Steelheads shots-against average in the first period, outshooting their opponents 9-4. Unfortunately, Idaho goaltending was just as steady; this time it was former Gull Colin Zulianello who was unbeatable between the pipes, stopping all of San Diego’s attempts in the period and 26 in the contest.
The Steelheads, however, opened the scoring for the first time in the three-game set with Lance Galbraith’s goal at 7:12 in first frame. Koenig made the initial save on Frank LukesEshot, but the rebound bounced into the left-wing circle, where Galbraith was in perfect position to slide it behind the out-of-position goaltender for his third goal of the season.
San Diego had its share of chances to level things in the second, but Zulianello continued to stymie the GullsEattack, turning away 10 in the frame, including a breakaway by Andrew Canzanello with less than two minutes left. Idaho’s penalty-killing unit, ranked first in the ECHL, didn’t cut the Gulls any breaks either, shutting down San Diego’s three power plays in the period.
Galbraith struck again to pad Idaho’s lead at 2-0 early in the third by simply being at the right place at the right time. David Cornacchia picked up the puck after Clark made a bad clear, and fired a shot from the left-wing circle that was headed wide until it took a detour off Galbraith’s skate and into the net.
The Gulls took a more textbook approach in cutting the Idaho deficit back to one at 2:57. Max Birbraer skated down the left-wing, and, with only Idaho defender Jeremy Mymylok between them, fed the puck to Darren Clark near the left post, who one-timed it past Zulianello for his sixth goal of the year.
As time ran off the clock, Birbraer set the comeback in motion by knotting things up at 17:50 with his fourth of the season and his third in three games. While Idaho had their mind set on overtime, it was O’Connor who pulled the wool over their eyes, striking the second and most devastating blow with his third goal of the year at 19:26. The Steelheads rallied to mastermind an attack of their own by pulling Zulianello, but their plans were thwarted when Lynch sent the puck into the empty net for his second goal of the year.
Notes: The Gulls are now 7-1-1 at home this season and 1-5-1 on the road... In their eight wins, San Diego has outscored its opponents 41-17... The Gulls have been outscored 26-9 in their eight losses (which includes an overtime and shootout loss)... The Blue and Orange have killed 23 of their last 24 penalties, dating back to Nov. 17... Birbraer and O’Connor notched three goals each in the series... With three points on Sunday (2g, 1a), Darren Clark extends his team-leading point total to 16... San Diego was 9-5-2 through 16 games last season... Sean Murphy remains on the injured list with a fractured knuckle...

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Gulls respond to coach's criticism, beat Steelheads 5-2

By: SANDY BURGIN - For the North County Times
SAN DIEGO ---- After Friday night's loss to the Idaho Steelheads, Gulls coach Martin St. Amour lamented, "we haven't played a 60-minute game this season, and there's no reason for it."

The Gulls responded to St. Amour's message Saturday night by starting strong and finishing the same way in a 5-2 victory over the defending Kelly Cup champion Steelheads before 6,891 fans at the Sports Arena.

Sean O'Connor, who rejoined the Gulls on Tuesday after being on loan to the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks of the AHL, scored his first two goals as a Gull and Trevor Koenig turned aside 32 shots in bringing his record to 6-3-1.


The Gulls (7-6-2), who are 6-1-1 at home, play the Steelheads for a third straight time at 5 p.m. today at the Sports Arena.

"Well, I guess we were up to about 56 minutes, so we're getting closer," St. Amour said. "We've got character. I know what we've got in the locker room. They just have to play for 60 and we're going to be a tough team to beat."

Koenig was particularly effective in the first two minutes of the third period when he helped kill off a 42-second two-man Steelheads power play with the Gulls leading 2-0.

It was moments after the Gulls killed off the final 1:18 of a second Koenig roughing penalty (assessed at the 20-minute mark of the second period) that Max Birbraer scored his third goal of the season for a 3-0 Gulls lead at 4:57.

Koenig lost his shutout bid when Idaho's Ben Keup beat him on a rebound at 4:29 of the third period.

However, the Gulls responded with goals by O'Connor and Sylvain Deschatelets 46 seconds apart in the seventh minute of play in the third period.

The Gulls got a pair of goals early in the first period.

Defenseman Evgueni Nourislamov scored his third goal of the season on a slap shot from the right point at the 9:14 mark.

Less than four minutes later, O'Connor scored his first goal as a Gull when he intercepted an errant pass by Idaho defenseman Jeremy Mylymok in the Steelheads zone and put a short wrister past Doyle from 10 feet.

GULLS NOTES ---- LW Scott Borders was activated from injured reserve list Saturday. ... D Sean Murphy, suffering from a fractured knuckle, was transferred to the 30-day injured list, retroactive to Nov. 27.