PHOENIX — The losses suddenly appear to be coming in bunches for the Gulls, who had won five games in a row earlier this month but have since been defeated in six of seven.
With a 5-4 shootout loss in front of a record 11,464 fans Saturday at Veteran's Memorial Coliseum, the third-place Gulls fell to 37-24-6 (81 points), two points behind Peoria, a 6-4 winner over Kansas City, in the International Hockey League West Division.
Before the game, the Gulls lost winger Steve Martinson (16 goals), who was purchased by the Minnesota North Stars after forward Basil McRae suffered a severed tendon in his left foot Saturday against Hartford. McRae is out the rest of the season.
Gull center Len Hachborn was taken to the hospital with torn cartilage and a possible broken nose after Sylvain Couturier sliced the nose with his skate. Referee Dan O'Halloran ruled it an intentional foul by Couturier and slapped him with a 10-minute major. The Gulls had a man advantage for 19:28 and took a 4-2 lead on a Derek Mayer goal to open the third period.
But goals by Jim Thompson and Ilkka Sinasilo tied it then Frank Beault put the deciding goal in the shootout against Gull goalie Bruce Hoffort.
"We were physically tired, but we can't use that as an excuse," said Gulls Coach Don Waddell, whose team played 17 games in February. "We've got to play through this. The goals we gave up were just mental mistakes."