Jan. 27, 2017
SAN DIEGO – The Gulls (19-12-2-2, 42 pts.) continue their season-long five-game road trip with the second of three consecutive contests against the Tucson Roadrunners (20-11-5-0, 45 pts.) tonight (6:05 p.m. PT, 1090-AM) at Tucson Arena. The Roadrunners currently sit directly above San Diego in third place in the Pacific Division and a San Diego win tonight would see San Diego and Tucson trade places.
“This week is big for us,” said Morley following Wednesday night’s win. “We want to come in here and win all three games so we can leapfrog them in the standings. They are a good hockey club so we have to get pucks in deep and play hard.”
Tyler Morley who notched a career high three points on Wednesday night as San Diego scored a franchise record eight goals, including five in the third period, in a convincing win over the Roadrunners. The rookie center scored his first goal of the season and set a person best with a two-assist game for this first time in his professional career.
San Diego is currently on a seven-game unbeaten streak (6-0-0-1), tied with the Utica Comets (seven games, 6-0-1-0) for the longest current unbeaten run in the AHL and the Gulls’ 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 30-13 and has killed 17 of the last 18 penalties, including the last 14 straight. The Gulls have won seven of the last nine games (8-1-0-1) and have earned standings points in 11 of the past 12 games (8-1-1-2) and 20 of the last 27 overall (17-7-1-2). They are also unbeaten in six consecutive road contests dating back to Dec. 29 at Texas (5-0-0-1) in addition to posting a 6-1-0-1 record in January.
A key to San Diego’s recent success has been stellar goaltending and defensive play: The Gulls have given up the fourth fewest goals in the AHL this season (102). Recently acquired goaltender Jhonas Enroth is 3-0-0 with a 1.00 GAA and .963 SV% in his three starts since being acquired from Toronto on Jan. 10. 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).
“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 fifth of 12 meetings this season, the second in Tucson, as part of a three-game series this week. San Diego has earned points in all four previous matchups this season (3-0-0-1), outscoring Tucson 22-10 over the four games and going 5-for-18 on the PP (27.8%).
Prior to this three-game set, 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 (4) and co-leads the team in points (6) with Brandon Montour (1-5=6) and Corey Tropp (3-3=6). Dustin Tokarski has posted a 2-0-1 record in his three starts vs. Tucson.
Tucson returned home for three games against the Gulls 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 9-28=37 points. Goaltender Adin Hill has recorded an 11-2-4 mark and his .923 save-percentage is seventh-best among all AHL goaltenders.