By Thomas Harrington
San Diego just continues to roll, winning four games in a row before dropping their most recent game in overtime. At the trade deadline, Bob Murray bolstered the Gulls’ ranks, as he sent ECHL forward Kenton Helgesen and a 2019 7th round draft pick to Chicago for forwards Sam Carrick and Spencer Abbot. In four combined games, they’ve collectively put up four points. With the playoffs almost a sure thing for this roster, the addition of these two will hopefully help the Gulls go far.
San Diego’s first game over the last two weeks kicked off their most recent winning streak, as Texas came to San Diego. The Gulls defended home ice and won 6-2. Texas actually opened the scoring, but San Diego responded with two goals in the first from Corey Tropp and Chris Wagner to put the Gulls on top. Texas tied the game in the second, but Kevin Roy scored just over a minute later. Antoine Laganiere and Nick Sorensen added to the lead, and Wagner added an empty-net goal to seal the deal. Dustin Tokarski had a strong outing, as he stopped 25 of 27 shots.
Up next, Rockford came down to San Diego, and it was a much closer game, but the Gulls were able to come out of it with a 3-2 victory. Rockford opened the scoring just minutes into the game, but Brandon Montour and Jaycob Megna both scored before the opening 20 minutes were over. Rockford tied things up in the second period, but Tyler Morley scored the game-winning goal just under five minutes into the third period. With Jhonas Enroth in Anaheim backing up Jonathan Bernier, Kevin Boyle was recalled from the ECHL and got the win, stopping 30 of 32 shots.
After those two home games, San Diego went out on the road and traveled to Tucson. After winning three games in a row at Tucson earlier this season, the Roadrunners were looking for some revenge, but the Gulls were able to win again, this time by a score of 5-3. The two teams traded goals in the first period, as Laganiere scored for San Diego. Tropp and Jordan Samuels-Thomas scored in the middle frame to give San Diego a 3-2 lead. Scott Sabourin scored just a few minutes into the third, and Kalle Kossila completed the scoring just over halfway through the third. Tokarski was back in net, stopping 16 of 19 shots.
The Gulls returned home, and Tucson followed. The Gulls were able to keep the Roadrunners down again and won 4-1. Keaton Thompson, Sorensen, and Brian Cooper scored three straight goals to open the game before Tucson got on the board. Tropp restored the three goal lead earlier in the third and Boyle stopped 35 of 36 shots. This was the first game that Carrick and Abbott played in for the Gulls. Carrick picked up an assist in the game, while Abbott went scoreless.
After winning four straight, San Diego lost a heartbreaker to San Jose, the team they are chasing for the Pacific Division lead. The Gulls have been one of the best teams in the AHL over the last couple of months, but San Jose has been the best AHL team period. At one point in time, they had won 14 games in a row. Tropp and Shea Theodore gave the Gulls a 2-1 lead in the first period, and Carrick extended that lead to 3-1 in the second period. Abbott picked up his first in San Diego with an assist on Theodore’s goal. However, the Barracuda scored two goals in the third period to tie things up and won the contest in overtime.
The Gulls did get revenge a few days later as they beat San Jose 7-6 in a wild OT game. The Gulls took a 5-3 lead after the first period that saw four different Gulls players score. Nic Kerdiles scored in the middle of the second and things looked good for the Gulls at 6-3. The Barracuda were able to score once in the second and twice in the third to send the game to overtime. In the extra session, Tyler Morley would score the game-winner as the Gulls won 7-6.
The Gulls will play five games over the next two weeks. Tucson will make another trip to San Diego, before the Gulls head out on the road for one game in San Jose. The Gulls will return home to host Stockton and then head out on the road to San Antonio for two games.
With the Gulls largely healthy and with the recent acquisitions, they look poised to make a deep run in the Calder Cup Playoffs. Going forward, the focus will be on refining their game and staying healthy. Right now, Montour, Wagner, and Enroth are all in Anaheim. They are three key contributors for this team and could be with the Ducks for a while. However, Theodore is playing very well for San Diego, the new forwards are picking up where Wagner left off, and Boyle and Tokarski look capable of carrying the load for now. With two games against San Jose in the next two weeks, the winner of the Pacific Division could be determined in those two games, especially if the Barracuda can defeat the Gulls in regulation in both games. If the Gulls want to win the division, they need to win at least one, if not both of these games.
The Gulls did announce today that Ryan Garbutt had shoulder surgery yesterday. He will be out for the remainder of the season. He played in 28 games with the Gulls recording 10 total points(4 goals + 6 assists). Before being sent down to San Diego, Garbutt played in 27 games in Anaheim recording three points(2 goals + 1 assist). Garbutt will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season.
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March 9th, 2017