Beginning one of their most grueling stretches of the season Wednesday against the Phoenix Roadrunners, the last thing the San Diego Gulls needed was a couple of former NHL players slinging shots at their goal.
Yet, that’s what the Gulls got; that, and a 7-3 loss to the Roadrunners in an International Hockey League game played in front of 3,108.
Scott Bjugstad and Bob Halkidis, a pair of forwards sent to the Roadrunners Tuesday by their parent club, the Los Angeles Kings, made quite an impact Wednesday in their first game for Phoenix. Bjugstad scored a hat trick and Halkidis had three assists to lead the Roadrunners (10-17-1).
The Gulls, who maintained their one-point, second-place lead over idle Salt Lake City, fell to 15-12-3 as they began a five-game road stretch, which will be followed by one home game and four more on the road.
Bjugstad scored two goals in the first period as Phoenix took a 3-0 lead, later increased to 4-0 four minutes, 13 seconds into the second period.
San Diego didn’t get on the board until 15:28 into the second period when Steve Dykstra scored his second goal of the season to make it 4-1.
“We came out a little flat, but they were on tonight,” Gulls Coach Mike O’Connell said. “It was one of those nights where no matter what we did, it was going to be tough for us. Some times you have to give the other team credit.”
Darren Lowe, who scored his ninth goal of the season, and Gord Walker finished the scoring for the Gulls in the third period. Derek Mayer, who assisted on Lowe’s goal, extended his point-scoring streak to 14 games.
The Gulls play next at Eastern Division-leading Kalamazoo on Saturday.