Gulls Just One Point Away From A Playoff Spot

San Diego creeps closer to the post-season

After beating the San Jose Barracuda on Saturday night the Gulls had a chance to clinch a spot in the American Hockey League playoffs on Sunday. All they had to do was beat the Stockton Heat in a rare afternoon start at Valley View Casino Center.

The goaltenders set the tone in the very first period. Gulls netminder Matt Hackett went save-for-save with 18-year-old phenom Nick Schneider. Both goalies pitched a shutout in the opening 20 minutes.

In the second period the Gulls broke through when Kalle Kossila scored. He was skating for St. Cloud State University in Minnesota just eight days ago. After the Huskies were knocked out of the NCAA Tournament, the Gulls signed Kossila to an amateur tryout agreement and in his first professional hockey game he got his first professional goal.

“He’s got some skill and, I think, a little bit of smarts,” said Gulls head coach Dallas Eakins. “When a guy like that scores everybody’s happy for him.”

Perhaps Kossila’s teammates were even happier than he was.

“Shea (Theodore) made a nice pass, I had a lot of time and I felt like the goalie was a little bit shifted so I just went in there and took a shot and it happened to go in,” said Kossila with all the excitement of someone who just unloaded the dishwasher. Of course, that’s the sign of a goal scorer. No matter what the situation, no matter the level of competition, they expect to score. Eakins rewarded his youngster by allowing him to take a few important face-offs late in a close game.

“With the guys coming in, we want to give them all a shot,” said Eakins. “We want to show some confidence in them. The best way to do that is put them on the ice.”

Stockton tied the game up with a goal just 67 seconds later and the game went to overtime. That’s when Hackett, who made 31 saves, could not stop Kenny Agostino’s drive just 12 seconds in to the extra period. The Heat won 2-1, leaving the Gulls just one disappointing point short of that post-season spot.

“Well we just move on,” said Eakins. “I thought we were in a tough spot. We played last night. Stockton was sitting waiting for us. To play two games in a day and a half is tough. I thought our effort was there but we were just a little bit off. Would we like to control that and get both points and have it all be over with? Yeah but now we only need one point so we’ll go find that one next week.”

If they can just reach overtime against Bakersfield on Wednesday night at Valley View Casino Center, they’ll have that point and a spot in the playoffs.

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