The San Diego Gulls are slowly moving their way back into the elite standings after beating the slump of the 5 game losing streak (four of which were on the road), only to return to VVCC for a 4 game undefeated home stand against the Manitoba Moose and the San Jose Barracuda.
The Gulls kicked off their home stand last weekend with two wins against Manitoba (who they split their season series with 2-2) for Salute to Hero’s night; honoring the military and rocking desert camo uniforms. This weekend the Gulls reeled in another two wins over San Jose in what really could compete for the best two-game series we have ever played: pulling the goalie down 2-1 only to tie it up and force over time in the final minutes, then take it to the shootout and win off of a Stefan Noesen goal, then coming back Saturday in front of another solid crowd where Matt Hackett posted the Gulls 4th shutout ever; a 4-0 victory. It wasn’t an easiest of shutouts however, as the Barracuda managed to get 37 shots on the Gulls net minder. It is clear that the Gulls came into practice at Poway Ice Arena after the losing streak with the mindset that our defense/penalty kill needs to step up, and our goalies need to amp up their game and play like the former NHL athletes they once were and may very well be again in the future. Both of those things clicked, and the people of San Diego are once again recognizing the Gulls as San Diego’s hottest team.
Key take aways offensively is that PTO Jordan Samuels-Thomas, who was playing with Utah for a while before being traded, is battling for his roster spot. In his first action with the Gulls, he managed two goals and a 4 +/- rating on his line. Stu Bickel has also made a bigger impact offensively as he has been able to stay out of the box following his one-game suspension. Corey Tropp still leads the team in both goals (5) and assists (10), with Brandon Montour chasing him for assists leader (8) while also recording the most shots in the league still at 66; 5 more than the second most active shooter, who has played 3 more games than Montour. Kevin Roy is tied in goals for at 5, and looks to add to his hot start of his rookie season. Ondrej Kase has also looked impressive over the home stand, but was called up to Anaheim yesterday where he will presumably play against the Kings tonight. The Gulls also made the first real AHL trade of the season when the sent Sgarbossa to the Springfield Thunderbirds in exchange for Logan Shaw. Both goaltenders came into the home stretch with about a 5 GAA, and they have since reduced those to the 3.65 range.
We now stand in 6th place of the pacific division and those 2 games against the Barracuda may prove beneficial to our playoff chances (even though that is months away) as any and all divisional games matter in the AHL, especially in our division considering how often we play divisional opponents. We now move forward to another road trip (seeking our first win on the road this season: 0-4 thus far) with games against first place Tucson this coming Tuesday and Wednesday, followed by a weekend trip for our first game against the Bakersfield Condors and the Ontario Reign, where The Colony will be in attendance rocking the orange, black, and blue! The Roadrunners only regulation loss: against the Gulls on opening night. This road trip is key to seeing how well we have really improved on our penalty kill, as Ontario and Tucson are the best at converting on the power play in the league at a 30.4% success rate. Though improving by 20% since our last recap, our 72.2% penalty kill is ranked 27th in the league and will be challenged over these next few games.
Next home game: 11/30 vs Tucson
Next big promo: Teddy Bear Toss 12/17
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