When the Anaheim Ducks announced the relocation of their AHL affiliate to San Diego last year, a majority of us had no idea what we were getting into. The San Diego Gulls (formerly the Norfolk Admirals) finished with one of the worst records in the AHL last year despite the Ducks and ECHL Grizzlies, doing well to get into the playoffs. Now that the team is in San Diego and under the helm of coach Dallas Eakins, the team has done a complete turnaround, and on Thursday night, the Gulls played their first ever playoff game against the Texas Stars (the Dallas Stars) affiliate. What is unique? All 3 teams in the Ducks organization are in the playoffs and are doing well. All three played Thursday night, and all three won Thursday night.
Photo Credit: Fansided
The parent club, the Anaheim Ducks, are no stranger to the playoffs as of late, capturing the NHL’s Pacific Division title for the fourth time in a row this season. The Ducks therefore have home ice advantage for their opening series against the Nashville Predators, but so far the home-ice advantage has not been any favor to the home team, as shown again on Thursday night. The Ducks played the first two games of the series at Honda Center and lost both of them. The team then traveled to Nashville where they shutout the Predators at home, and on Thursday night they continued where they left off on Tuesday. The Ducks took the lead early with a Ryan Getzlaf goal at the 1:02 mark of the first period, and they would not let down after. The Ducks won the game 4-1 with another strong goaltending performance by Frederick Andersen and are returning home to play at Honda Center this Saturday, where they look to take their first lead of the series which is tied 2-2.
Video Credit: Texas Stars Hockey Club
The San Diego Gulls, the AHL affiliate, played their first ever playoff game as well Thursday night, beating the Texas Stars by a score of 3-1, despite being outshot 29-17. Antoine Laganiere, the “wrangling wreck from Quebec” as play by play announcer Craig Elsten calls him, scored the first goal for the Gulls in the first period, the first ever for this iteration of the San Diego Gulls. The team held the lead throughout the first period, but early in the second Texas tied the game up at one. The Gulls would add another goal with Nick Ritchie, a fan favorite and offensive powerhouse, in the second period to take the lead going into the final frame. To put the icing on the cake, Chris Mueller, one of our six allotted veterans and one of the teams top scorers in the regular season, scored in the third. Anton Khudobin had a phenomenal game recording blocking 28 of the 29 shots he faced. The Gulls will look to continue to “mess with Texas” this Saturday night at 5pm in Texas. If you are looking for a place to watch the game, come out to Rockin’ Baja Lobster in Old Town for $2 beers and great people!
Photo Credit: Times of San Diego
To finish it all off, the Utah Grizzlies, the ECHL team of the Ducks (the league lower than the San Diego Gulls), won pivotal game 3 of their 7 game series against the Colorado Eagles to move to 2-1 in the series. Considering the path up to the NHL features players constantly moving, we feel it’s important to acknowledge that on injury basis these guys in Salt Lake are our go to, but it doesn’t hurt that they are incredibly talented and have made the playoffs once again. Having that said; players we have seen here in San Diego played their part of the teams win. Goalie Ryan Faragher (appearing in net 5 times this season for San Diego) blocked 17 of the 19 shots he faced, while Eric Knodel, who has appeared in four games with the Gulls this season, scored the opening goal of the contest 3 minutes into the first period and finished with a +/- of +2.
Photo Credit: Utah Grizzlies
So there you have it: the entire Ducks organization came out of Thursday night with a playoff win by getting the puck in the net quick. There is a lot of great hockey going around, and there is no better postseason in sports than in hockey!
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