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…