Salt Lake Gets Gulls on the Rebound : Hockey: Eagles, beaten 9-1 Friday night, bounce back for a 3-2 victory.
Same teams, same arena, starkly different result.
The Salt Lake Golden Eagles, who lost by eight goals here Friday, came back Saturday to defeat the Gulls, 3-2, in front of 5,102 at the San Diego Sports Arena.
Gull Coach Don Waddell warned his team to expect retaliation for their 9-1 trouncing of Salt Lake. He was correct.
“The guys thought it would be easy,” Waddell said. “We stood around and watched them. The penalties we took were bad penalties on our part. They were frustration penalties. As the game went on, we got frustrated. That was probably their game plan.”
Credit the Eagles’ strategy and resourcefulness. Salt Lake (14-15-1, 29 points), the IHL’s worst power-play team, scored all three of its goals on the power play. The Gulls (15-12-0, 30 points), who average a league-low 22 penalty minutes a game, were coerced into 11 penalties for 41 minutes and saw their best center and IHL assist leader, Len Hachborn, get ejected.
The Gulls, for the second night in row, got strong goaltending from Rick Knickle (11-4). Knickle stopped 20 shots and kept his team in the game, but rookie Jason Muzzatti (8-5) stopped 39 of 41 shots for the victory.
Salt Lake, which had lost three in a row after taking 10 of 12, broke on top, 2-0, after goals by Corey Lyons and Shawn Heaphy. The Gulls, who had won six of seven coming in, came back to tie it in the second period. But the loss of Hachborn, who had two costly confrontations with Eagle left wing Paul Kruse, took away the heart of the Gulls’ No. 1 scoring line. Hachborn missed the final 5:39 of the second period. He played only 1:47 of the third.
The Gulls, trailing, 2-1, without Hachborn, tied the game on a goal by left wing Denny Lambert 2:58 into the third period.
As Knickle made a big glove save with 8:19 to go, Hachborn and Kruse got tangled in front of the net. Kruse again served two minutes for roughing. Hachborn, the league leader in assists with 28, was sent to the showers with two minutes for roughing, two for unsportsmanlike conduct and 10 more for misconduct. He left with 26 penalty minutes after entering it with 20 penalty minutes in 26 games.
“They were totally ridiculous penalties,” Waddell said. "(Hachborn) got chopped a couple times. Maybe one of the calls should have gone the other way. I was very concerned about something like this happening. There are no easy games in this league.”
With Salt Lake on the power play, Knickle made five splendid saves while his team was unable to clear the puck. Finally, he was victimized by defenseman Kevin Wortman, who peppered in a rebound from the slot to make it 3-2, Eagles, with 6:26 left.
The Gulls had an excellent chance to tie it at 5:12 with Ray Whitney alone on a breakaway. But his point-blank shot was gloved by Muzzatti.
Robbie Nichols scored the Gulls’ first goal.
The Gulls and Salt Lake, who will face each other 18 times this season, will play three more times this month: Dec. 20-21 in Salt Lake City and Dec. 29 at the Sports Arena. . . . The Gulls, who are 8-5 on the road so far, won’t play at home again until Dec. 26. Next week they travel to play two games at Kansas City, first place in the IHL West, Wednesday and Friday, then play at Indianapolis, last in the East, on Saturday. With the Salt Lake City trip coming the following weekend, the Gulls will play five consecutive road games. . . . Each of the 17 players who suited up for Friday’s game scored at least one point as the Gulls won, 9-1. The only two who did not score were the goalies. . . . Defenseman Dave Korol left Saturday’s game in the first quarter with bruised ribs after he blocked three Eagle slap shots with his body.