Escondido native Austin Ortega made his professional hockey debut with the San Diego Gulls Saturday night in Tucson.
And it did not take him long to make a difference on the ice.
Ortega earned his first point in his first game as an AHL player when he assisted on a goal by Nic Kerdiles in the opening period.
“Pretty exciting moment for myself and my family,” said Ortega afterwards. “Obviously I was excited to get my first game.”
The Gulls led 1-0 after the opening period and built a 2-0 when Ondrej Kase deflected home a shot from veteran defenseman Jeff Schultz.
Newcomer Mitch Hults also recorded an assist on Kase’s goal and wound up with two helpers on the evening for his first multi-point game.
Gulls goaltender Jhonas Enroth (14-3-0) made 30 saves to help San Diego improve to 12-3-1-0 in its past 16 games.
San Diego won all six meetings in Tucson against the Roadrunners this season, outscoring the gracious hosts 30-8.
The Gulls (40-17-3-2, 85 points) also set franchise records with their 40th win of the season and 85th point in a 4-1 victory over the Roadrunners (26-30-7-0; 59 pts.)
"I think the forwards did a really good job getting to the net and the hard areas, and everyone got rewarded because of it,” said Gulls defenseman Nate Guenin.
The Gulls visit the Stockton Heat (Calgary Flames affiliate) Wednesday evening before returning home to host their rivals from Ontario on Friday April 7th at 7 p.m.
Fans attending the Gulls-Reign contest Friday will receive free Ducks Stanley Cup mini-banners as San Diego honors the Ducks Stanley Cup 10th Anniversary.