The San Diego Gulls opened up their season with an electrifying win over the Tucson Roadrunners on October 14th. The Gulls then played a fresh-legged Ontario Reign team that shutout the Gulls on October 15th with a stellar performance by goalie Jack Campbell. We then faced Texas this past Saturday and managed to win the back and forth contest by a score of 5-4, and wrapped up the homestand with a 7-5 loss to the Stockton Heat, which featured questionable calls but in the end, Stockton had twice the penalty minutes as the Gulls and the Gulls battle back in the final frame came up short. Despite a 2-2 opening record, this team looks much better offensively than last seasons inaugural team, with defense appearing to be the current issue.
Our offense has outshot the opposition in each game to have a total shot count of 156-115, which was something the Gulls had hoped to build on in the offseason granted they were outshot many times last season. Right-winger Corey Tropp leads the team in points with 8 coming from 2 goals and 6 assists, and is tied with left-winger Antoine Laganiere in SH% with 0.250 effectiveness. Additionally, Ondrej Kase and Kalle Kossila have 3 points each. The Gulls are also 10th in the league on PP% with a 22.7%, and yet are 5th in the division, which is ultimately a major factor based on the AHL scheduling format. Potentially stoking more offensive power, left-winger Emerson Etem will be joining the Gulls after being placed on waivers by the Ducks yesterday. Yet, much of our offensive firepower has come from the defensive front.
Defensively San Diego has struggled. The Gulls are ranked dead last (in fact, 10% less than the team ranked 29th) in the league with a 55.6% penalty kill allowing 8 power play goals being short handed 18 times. In 4 games, the opposition have outscored the Gulls 16-15. On the possible upside, the Gulls have some of the best offensive-defensemen in the league. Brandon Montour has played in all four games, leads the league defensemen in points with 6 coming in 2 goals and 4 assists… but more notably leads all skaters with 27 shots! Teammate Shea Theodore is currently up with the Ducks, but in his 2 games in San Diego this season, he recorded 2 assists and 15 shots (tied for 2nd on the Gulls despite having 2 less games). The future is uncertain for the Gulls defense (especially with the Lindholm signing in Anaheim today as it put them over salary-cap), but line changes or a modified game plan are likely in the future, as there have been many open chances for teams to put them past our goaltender tandem of Dustin Tokarski and Matt Hackett.
Tokarski and Hackett ultimately cannot save every shot they face (especially in the situations they have been put in in front of the net). Tokarski leads the team in GAA with 3.50 on 54 saves while Hackett has a 4.19 GAA with just 46 saves. Jonathan Bernier of the Anaheim Ducks suffered an injury on Tuesday and is listed as day-to-day, and therefore the tandem of Hackett and 24-year-old rookie Kevin Boyle (who was called up from Utah) will be making the trip. Boyle is likely to see time in net as the Gulls have a long travel and back-to-back games Friday and Saturday in Winnipeg. In Utah, Boyle’s first outing looked superb only allowing 1 goal on 34 shots, while his second performance was poor in a high scoring match vs Idaho giving up 7 goals on 36 shots, totaling a GAA of 4.02 on 70 shots faced. If he gets ice time, it will be the highest level of play the prospect has played in.
With the Gulls flying to Manitoba today to play their first series in Canada against the Manitoba Moose, they travel without Tokarski and are set to adapt to the new time zone and short-rest and probable lack of practice. Gulls fans are gathering at Rockin’ Baja Lobster in Old Town for the Saturday game against the Moose, and special offers will be offered such as $2 beer! Be sure to come out, Gulliver and the Gulls Girls will also be making an appearance. Puck drops at 5:00pm with festivities beginning at 4:00! Both of these games will be aired on 1700AM due to the SDSU football game Friday and the World Series Saturday. With Sockers opening day being Saturday, MASL fans are also welcomed to come hang out with us prior to their match against the Turlock Express!
The Gulls return for their Salute to Hero’s 2 game promo on 11/11 and 11/12, wear the team is likely to wear desert camo Gulls colored jerseys! Gulls taking donations to help support our troops, and the team will be auctioning off the jerseys! For more info, visit the Gulls website or contact Derek Dawson at: 619-359-4717