By: SANDY BURGIN - For the North County Times
SAN DIEGO ---- The Gulls, bolstered by a 47-save effort from goaltender Eddy Ferhi, snapped the Idaho Steelheads' seven-game winning streak with a 3-2 ECHL victory Sunday before 4,857 fans at the Sports Arena.
With the victory, the Gulls (28-20-6) moved to within five points of fourth-place Fresno, which lost to Alaska in a shootout.
"Yeah, you can say we got outplayed here and there," said Gulls coach Martin St. Amour. "But sometimes the goalie has to win the game for you, and he did it tonight!"
The Gulls were outshot 49-16 and had just six shots on net in the final two periods.
Fortunately for the Gulls, Sean O'Connor and Nikita Korovkin beat Idaho goalie Frank Doyle with a pair of goals a little more than a minute apart in the first period, and Max Birbraer added the eventual game-winner with just 2 minutes, 47 seconds remaining in the second period.
Korovkin's goal, his seventh on the season, came on a power play 7:36 into the game with former Gull Billy Tibbetts in the penalty box for interference. Just 1:04 later, O'Connor recorded his 17th goal of the season off assists from Brian Gornick and Jonathan Shockey.
Doyle had come into the game with five straight victories, giving up an average of 1.60 goals in that span.
But Ferhi was even better, especially in the second period when the Steelheads, the defending Kelly Cup champions, outshot the Gulls 22-3.
It was during that middle period that Birbraer notched the game's key goal, scoring on a breakaway at 17:13. It was only the Gulls' second shot of the period.
"That goal was huge," said Ferhi, "especially since I didn't see it. There was something going on in our end and all of a sudden I look down and there's Max with a breakaway against a very good goalie and he makes a heck of a move.
"A two-goal lead is the worst lead in hockey, they say. So a three-goal lead makes a world of difference."