The sudden finality of a hockey season can be outright cruel. The Gulls felt that pain on Monday night in Chicago.
San Diego fell 3-1 to the Wolves, eliminating the Gulls from the Calder Cup Western Conference Final series 4 games to 2. Still, this is the farthest the Gulls have ever gone in the American Hockey League playoffs.
The game was scoreless for nearly 48 minutes when the Wolves forward Curtis McKenzie finally put a puck past Kevin Boyle to give Chicago a 1-0 lead. Just 21 seconds later Chicago got the game-winner. Keegan Kolesar scored, although Boyle and the Gulls defensemen argued the goalie was interfered with. The officials disagreed so the Wolves had a 2-0 lead.
San Diego made it interesting when Sam Carrick scored a power play goal with 5:09 to play but two minutes later McKenzie took advantage of a defensive breakdown to score his 2nd of the night and put it out of reach. Chicago will face the Charlotte Checkers in the Calder Cup Final.
Despite the disappointing end what the Gulls accomplished this post-season is remarkable. They didn’t earn their playoff spot until the penultimate day of the regular season but got hot at the right time. They knocked off the San Jose Barracuda and Bakersfield Condors, both higher seeds, and took a 2-1 series lead on Chicago after the Wolves earned the best record in the Western Conference before running out of steam.
San Diego led the AHL in attendance for the 2nd straight year, once again proving America’s Finest City is indeed home to America’s Finest Fans.