By Thomas Harrington
The San Diego Gulls had a great two weeks, going 4-1 in five games. Even though the Gulls lost their most recent game, they did have an eight-game winning streak, matching their franchise record. That winning streak has put the Gulls in a solid playoff position, with a shot at the top spot in the Pacific.
The Gulls started out by traveling to San Jose for a pair of games. In the first game, neither team found the back of the net in the first period, but the Barracuda scored twice in the second to take a 2-0 lead. The comeback started early in the third when Kevin Roy scored just over three minutes into the period. A minute and a half later, Eric Fehr scored to tie the game at two. Neither team was able to score again in regulation, and the game went to overtime. Dennis Rasmussen, playing one of his final games for San Diego before heading back to Europe, got to play the hero and get the win for the Gulls. The two teams met again the next night, and this one wasn’t anywhere near as close. San Jose opened the scoring 24 seconds into the game, but that was it for the Barracuda. Nicolas Kerdiles and Kalle Kossila both scored in the final minutes of the period to make it 2-1. In the second period, Rasmussen and Fehr both scored to make it 4-1, which ended up being the final score.
After that successful road trip, the Gulls returned home to host Bakersfield and blew them out of the building. Fehr scored just over a minute into the game, and Sam Carrick and Mitch Hults made it 3-0 before the first was over. In the middle frame, Scott Sabourin extended the lead to 4-0. In the final frame, Carrick scored again, and Kerdiles finished things off to give the Gulls the 6-0 win. Kevin Boyle stopped all 37 shots he faced to get the shutout.
Next up, Ontario came to town. The Gulls had another dominant first period, as Carrick, Giovanni Fiore, and Keaton Thompson made it 3-0. In the second, Andy Welinski scored to make it 4-0, but the Reign did score twice to make it 4-2. With seconds left in the period, Fehr scored to make it 5-2, and that ended up being the final score. Boyle made a team record 53 saves in the win. Finally, the Gulls traveled to Ontario to take on the Reign for a rematch, but this time, things didn’t go so well for San Diego. The first period was scoreless, but Ontario really turned it up in the second and made it 3-0 before 40 minutes were up. In the third, the Gulls tried to mount a comeback, as Hults got San Diego on the board. Unfortunately, Ontario had an answer less than a minute later to restore their three-goal lead. Steve Oleksy made it 4-2, but just 30 seconds later, Ontario responded again to take the 5-2 lead, which ended up being the final score.
The Gulls will play only four games over the next two weeks. They’ll start out by traveling to Stockton before returning home to face the San Antonio Rampage. They’ll then host Ontario again before traveling back to Stockton to finish off this two-week stretch.
Marcus Pettersson and Reto Berra are the only Gulls players in Anaheim right now. Both Kevin Bieksa and Francois Beauchemin have struggled this season, so the decision was made to bring up Pettersson instead. To make room for him, Korbinian Holzer was placed on waivers and assigned to the Gulls. So far, Pettersson has looked pretty good and may have found a home for himself in Anaheim. Berra is up while John Gibson deals with an injury suffered against Vegas. If any other player from San Diego is recalled, Roy, Kossila, and Welinski are all playing well and I think would be the most likely to head back to Anaheim.
San Diego’s eight-game winning streak has put them into second place in the Pacific, trailing only the Roadrunners. There’s still a long way to go till the end of the season, but if San Diego can keep playing like this, they should have no issues with making the Calder Cup Playoffs for a third straight season.
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February 22nd, 2017