By Cameron Struyk
The San Diego Gulls have seemingly found their groove as they have now set a franchise record of seven wins which also broke the record for the longest win streak in the AHL’s Pacific Division history with Wednesday’s 5-1 victory over the first place Tucson Roadrunners.
The Gulls left Stockton in the beginning of the month with two blowout losses (1-6 and 3-7) to a Heat team who is currently in second place in the Pacific Division. That would be the end of a five-game losing streak which seemed to be at the hands of a terrible penalty kill combined with a ridiculous amount of penalty minutes. The Gulls then had a weeks worth of practice before their next games at home, and it was clear they capitalized in practice adjustments. Coach Dallas Eakins clearly pushed for a better penalty kill unit and power play conversion which has now risen to respectable numbers. The chemistry has evidently gone up along the defensive lines as well. As a result, the Gulls got payback on the Manitoba Moose by beating them twice. The Gulls also beat the San Jose Barracuda twice with a shootout victory followed by shutout. The Gulls then went up to Bakersfield this past Saturday and pulled off an OT win, only to travel overnight to Ontario where they would beat their division Rival in the Reign. The Gulls continued their winning ways beating the Roadrunners on home ice Wednesday as previously mentioned.
We have come full circle; it is now the beginning of December and the Gulls are headed to Stockton for two huge games against a fast Stockton team the Gulls have struggled against, already losing all three games played. The hope is that the winning ways will not dry up and the Gulls will be able to fly up to Stockton and come up with two wins, at least one of which coming in regulation, which would propel them into second place in the Pacific Division and ahead of other the California teams
The Gulls didn’t get on this streak solely with special teams. Both goaltenders, Dustin Tokarski and Matt Hackett improved their records and lowered their goals against averages(GAA) which were rather high at about 5 goals per game. Hackett boasted a shutout against San Jose and then got the nod in Bakersfield, which he played again phenomenally going scoreless for roughly 25 minutes, only to suffer a torn labrum which he has since had surgery on. Hackett will be out for quite a bit of time and as a result, Kevin Boyle has been called up from the ECHL. He is likely to get a start at one of the two games this weekend. In his one start with the Gulls, he played extraordinarily well but the team couldn’t put away their losing streak as they lost 3-2 in OT. As it stands: Boyle leads the Gulls in GAA with 2.93, Tokarski is in second with a 3.24, while Hackett is close behind with a 3.35.
Offensively in 15 games played, Corey Tropp maintains his point lead with 19, Kevin Roy leads in goal scoring with eight goals, and Brandon Montour leads all defensemen in shots with 75, only behind Providence winger Jake DeBrusk by one. Of the top 15 shooters, Montour is also the most productive in getting points with 0.93 per game.
The Gulls have made their fair share of roster moves tapping into the PTO’s like Jordan-Samuels Thomas and Austen Brassard who have both been signed to one-year contracts recently, and Kenny Ryan who saw time with the Gulls last year, was signed to a PTO yesterday and he proceeded to score in his first game of the season with the team. Chris Wagner was sent to San Diego for one game this past Sunday, where his fresh legs made him even faster and he proceeded to rack up two assists and a goal in his lone game. Both he and Shea Theodore have been called back up to Anaheim. In other injury news, Nick Kerdiles is still listed on the Ducks injury reserve and has not been assigned to the Gulls as of yet, Emerson Etem also underwent knee surgery and is expected to be out quite a bit of time.
By the end of this weekend, the Gulls will be half way through their season series with Stockton, they can get up to 2-3 or fall to 0-5 against the team, which as it stands, makes Stockton the only team the Gulls have a sub .500 record against this season. Puck drops tonight and tomorrow at 7:00 PM PT, watch parties being held at Rockin’ Baja Lobster in Old Town! next home game is this Tuesday as Bakersfield comes to town looking for payback!
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December 2, 2016