By Thomas Harrington
Since their eight-game winning streak, the San Diego Gulls have struggled, losing six of their last seven games. They are currently on a five-game losing streak. The Gulls are missing almost all of their core players, as they are either in Anaheim or on injured reserve.
The Gulls started the last two weeks off with an overtime win over Bakersfield. The teams traded goals through the opening 40 minutes of play as Kalle Kossila and Brandon Montour scored for San Diego and the game was tied at two. Bakersfield took the lead early in the third period, but some late game heroics saw the game tied up with 10 seconds left in the third when Stefan Noesen found the back of the net. He was called up to Anaheim after this game and got his first career NHL goal the next night against Carolina. If not for Noesen’s goal, San Diego’s losing streak would likely be at seven straight games. Chris Wagner scored the game winner in overtime, sending the San Diego fans home happy.
Following their dramatic victory over the Condors, the Gulls traveled to San Jose and lost back to back 3-0 games on consecutive days against the Barracuda. Ryan Garbutt’s first games with San Diego were in these two losses, and he didn’t do much in either, other than take a penalty in his first game with the Gulls. San Jose was able to suffocate San Diego’s offense as the Gulls were limited to only 41 shots combined in these two games. San Diego’s two best players in this weekend series were their goalies, as Dustin Tokarski and Kevin Boyle both did their best to keep the Gulls in the two games. The Gulls did manage to hit a couple of posts in the first game and had a goal waived off because of a high stick, so it’s not like they didn’t have any chances, but San Jose’s defense smothered the Gulls in these two shutout losses.
After being shutout in consecutive games, the Gulls returned home for three games before the holiday break. Ontario kicked things off in a closely contested game that saw the Reign take home the 3-2 victory against San Diego. Wagner and Nick Sorensen scored San Diego’s two goals; Wagner’s was a shorthanded goal.
After the loss to Ontario, Stockton came in and won the next two games against the Gulls. The first game was a 5-3 affair, as the Gulls gave up two power play goals and scored none, the difference in this game. The Heat jumped out to a 4-0 lead before San Diego finally got on the scoreboard. Kevin Roy got things started for the Gulls, and Jaycob Megna scored his first goal of the season, a shorthanded goal from Corey Tropp and Andy Welinski. Kenny Ryan scored San Diego’s final goal of the game. The next night was Teddy Bear Toss night for the Gulls, but San Diego was shut out through the first 59 minutes of the game, so the bears were tossed on the ice halfway through the third period, making sure the fans would have a chance to throw their bears. Keaton Thompson scored San Diego’s only goal of the game with just 20 seconds left in the contest, as San Diego lost 3-1. It was Thompson’s first career AHL goal.
Up next, the Gulls will be off until after Christmas while the AHL is on holiday break. San Diego will return to action on the 26th with Tucson paying a visit to San Diego. The next night, the Gulls and Reign will renew their rivalry in San Diego. After those two home games, the Gulls will travel to Texas for a pair of games before returning home to host San Antonio twice.
As I mentioned earlier, the Gulls are struggling a lot right now because so many players are injured or in Anaheim. On the injury front, Nic Kerdiles has yet to play a game this season, Emerson Etem has only played in one game, and Matt Hackett is out long term. In Anaheim, Noesen, Ondrej Kase, Joseph Cramarossa, and Shea Theodore are four players who are all playing important roles for the Ducks. Of these four players, Theodore is really the only one who could have been expected to not spend much time with the Gulls this season. The other three, Kase and Cramarossa especially, have been nice surprise additions to Anaheim’s roster, but it has left San Diego’s roster depleted. With so many players out of the lineup, two of San Diego’s top four scorers are rookies, Roy and Kossila. Both are playing well, but some veteran help could do a world of wonder for this team right now. Barring that, hopefully, some players get healthy as we transition into the new year.
San Diego’s recent losing streak has dropped the team to seventh in their division. The Gulls are going to need to be much better going forward to snap out of their losing ways and make it to the playoffs in consecutive years. One thing that will help is if they can get their power play going, as San Diego has failed on over 20 consecutive power plays.
With the holiday break keeping the Gulls off the ice for the next week, you can expect the next Gulls Bi-Weekly report in about three weeks’ time.
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December 20, 2016