The San Diego Gulls (18-12-2-2, 40 pts.) continue their season-long five-game road trip with three consecutive contests against the Tucson Roadrunners (20-10-5-0, 45 pts.) tonight (6:05 p.m. PT, 1700-AM) at Tucson Convention Center. Tonight marks the 35th game for San Diego, and the Gulls open the second half of the 2016-17 season with a six-game unbeaten streak (5-0-0-1), the club’s second-longest unbeaten stretch this season (previous: franchise record eight-game win streak (8-0-0) from Nov. 11-Dec. 2).
During the current unbeaten streak, San Diego has outscored opponents 21-12 and has killed 15 of the last 16 penalties, including the last 12 straight. The Gulls have won seven of the last nine games (7-1-0-1) and have earned standings points in 10 of the past 11 games (7-1-1-2) and 19 of the last 26 overall (16-7-1-2). They are also unbeaten in five consecutive road contests dating back to Dec. 29 at Texas (4-0-0-1) in addition to posting a 5-1-0-1 record in January.
San Diego returns to the ice after its’ five-game win streak from Jan. 7-20 came to an end in a 3-2 shootout loss to Ontario on Sunday afternoon.
“Our team has played extremely well lately, even though we lost our last time out,” said rookie center Kalle Kossila, who recently set a franchise record with an eight-game point streak. “It’s fun to play these games against teams ahead of us in the standings. We have an opportunity to pass Tucson this week and I am looking forward to it.”
One of the keys to San Diego’s recent success has been goaltending. Rookie goaltender Kevin Boyle has posted a 5-1-2 record in his last eight games with a 2.09 GAA and .923 save percentage SV%. Boyle also ranks fifth among rookie goaltenders (minimum 10 games) in GAA (2.38), fifth in SV% (.919) and tied for fifth in shutouts (1). Recently acquired goaltender Jhonas Enroth is 2-0-0 with a 1.00 GAA and .963 SV% in his two starts since being acquired from Toronto on Jan. 10.
“Our defense deserves a ton of credit,” said Enroth on the team’s play. “We are starting to play meaningful games here which is important. This week should be a good test for us and we will see after this stretch if we are truly a playoff team.”
The Gulls and Roadrunners face off for the fourth of 12 meetings this season and the first-ever matchup in Tucson as part of a three-game series this week. San Diego has earned points in all three previous matchups this season (2-0-0-1), outscoring Tucson 14-9 over the three contests and going 5-for-16 on the PP (31.3%).
The most recent contest between these clubs came on Dec. 26 when the Gulls fell by a 5-4 score line in the shootout. The Gulls received goals from four different skaters and Brandon Montour matched a career high with 1-3=4 points and setting a new career best with three assists. Antoine Laganiere leads all Gulls skaters in goals (3) in three contests, while Brandon Montour leads the club in assists (5) and points (6). Dustin Tokarski has posted a 2-0-1 record in his three starts vs. Tucson.
Tucson currently sits in second place in the Pacific Division, two places ahead of San Diego. The Roadrunners head home after seeing their five-game win streak come to an end with consecutive losses in Charlotte on Jan. 21 (2-1) and Jan. 22 (3-1). Tucson scored only two goals over the weekend after registering 17 goals during its’ five-game streak. Chris Mueller leads all Roadrunners in scoring and is ranked 10th among all AHL skaters with 8-28=36 points. Goaltender Adin Hill has recorded an 11-2-4 mark and his .923 save-percentage is seventh-best among all AHL goaltenders.