By Thomas Harrington
The San Diego Gulls are on fire, picking up points in 12 straight games and going 6-0 over the last two weeks. One of the reasons for San Diego’s hot streak has been the acquisition of Jhonas Enroth. Ever since the Ducks picked him up from Toronto, he’s been the best goaltender in the AHL. He was named the best goaltender in the month of January, as he went 6-0 and had a goals against average of 1.17 and a save percentage of .957. Five of those wins came with the Gulls.
The Gulls started off the last two weeks with three straight games in Tucson, winning all three games by a combined score of 13-2. San Diego started things off with a boat race, as they clobbered the Roadrunners 8-1. Corey Tropp scored twice, and Brian Cooper, Scott Sabourin, Max Gortz, Tyler Morley, Antoine Laganiere, and Jordan Samuels-Thomas had the other six goals. The next game was much closer, but the Gulls skated off with a 2-1 victory. Tucson got the goal scoring started in the first, but Chris Wagner tied things up late in the second. Wagner scored his second goal of the game in the third, and that was enough for the win. In the final game, San Diego didn’t let the Roadrunners get anything going, as the Gulls won 3-0. Wagner scored the first goal halfway through the first; Laganiere and Tropp scored the final two goals of the game.
After their road trip to Tucson, the Gulls traveled back to California to take on the Ontario Reign for two games. The first game was in Ontario, and it was back and forth affair, as Ontario took the lead three separate times, but San Diego was able to tie it up each time. Samuels-Thomas tied the game in the first, Nic Kerdiles scored his first goal of the season after returning from a long injury, and Kevin Roy tied the game for a final time late in the third to send the game to overtime. In overtime, Brandon Montour ended the game on a breakaway. The next night, the Gulls returned home to face the Reign again, and it was another close contest. The game was scoreless through the first two periods, but Laganiere finally broke through with the first goal of the game about seven and a half minutes into the third. Five minutes later, Laganiere scored his second goal, and that was enough to give San Diego the 2-0 victory. What was most impressive about this victory was that San Diego had neither Montour nor Shea Theodore, as both had played for the Ducks earlier in the day. Without their two top defensemen, they were still able to shutout a team that has given them fits over the last couple of seasons.
San Diego starts their next two week stretch with a three game road trip that will take them to Bakersfield, San Jose, and back to Ontario. The Gulls beat the Bakersfield Condors 4-2 last night and will face San Jose tonight. The Gulls will then return home to host Bakersfield and Iowa, before heading back out on the road to visit Bakersfield again. The final game of the next two weeks will have the Gulls hosting Tucson at home.
San Diego’s hot streak has vaulted them into third in the Pacific Division and a legitimate shot at the top spot, as they are only two points back of San Jose, who currently lead the division. The Gulls are also now fourth in the Western Conference. If Enroth can keep playing at this level, the Gulls will be well positioned when the playoffs start. Kerdiles’ return from injury should also be a huge boon to this team. So far, he has one goal in three games, but I’m hoping he can catch fire once he’s fully back up to game speed. The acquisition of Gortz has also been a big help to the team, as he has three points in six games and he and Kerdiles seem to be developing some chemistry. Even if Montour and Theodore don’t spend much time in the AHL through the rest of the season, the Gulls are playing well enough that they should be able to keep picking up wins without them.
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February 8, 2017