Feb. 3, 2017
SAN DIEGO – The Gulls (21-12-2-2, 46 pts.) return from the All-Star break to conclude their season-long five-game road trip with the first game of a home-and-home series vs. the Ontario Reign (23-9-7-0, 53 pts.) at Citizens Business Bank Arena (7:00 p.m., 1090-AM). San Diego is currently unbeaten in nine consecutive games (8-0-0-1), the longest current unbeaten stretch in the AHL and the longest undefeated run in the AHL this season. The point streak is the Gulls’ longest unbeaten stretch this season and ranks second in club history behind an 11-game point streak from Feb. 19 to Mar. 16, 2016.
San Diego enters play tonight after sweeping three games from the Tucson Roadrunners last week. The Gulls outscored the Roadrunners 13-2 over the three contests, including an 8-1 romp last Wednesday. A big contributor to the offensive outburst was forward Chris Wagner who potted 3-0=3 goals in the three-game trip and has 3-2=5 points in his last five games overall. The veteran has 2-2=4 points in four meeting against Ontario this season and knows the challenge the Reign provide.
“We played a few good games out there and wore them down,” said Wagner in reference to Tucson. “Ontario is a different animal. When we play them it is always a battle, there’s usually a lot of tight-checking and it comes down to who makes the least amount of mistakes.”
During the current nine-game unbeaten stretch, San Diego has outscored opponents 35-14 and has killed 25 of the last 27 penalties (92.6) and 8-for-38, (21.2%) on the power play. San Diego has won 10 of the last 12 games (10-1-0-1) and has earned standings points in 13 of the past 14 (10-1-1-2) and 22 of the last 29 overall (19-7-1-2). The Gulls posted an 8-1-0-1 record in January, marking a season high in wins for a single month this season and tied for the most wins in a month all-time (also Feb. 2016 and Mar. 2016).
Newly acquired goaltender Jhonas Enroth has been steady in net in his five games with San Diego, allowing only four goals while winning all five starts (5-0-0) with a 0.80 GAA and .969 SV% since being acquired from Toronto on Jan. 10. Enroth is 7-1-0 this season with a 1.63 GAA and .942 SV%. Yesterday Enroth was recognized by the AHL as the CCM/AHL Goaltender of the Month after posting a perfect 6-0-0 mark with a 1.17 GAA and a .957 SV% while allowing just seven goals on 163 shots.
“To be honest, I came in at the right time,” said Enroth. “The team was playing well before I got here and they have continued that on this streak. I am happy to be here and fortunate to play with a talented group of guys.”
The Gulls and Reign face off for the sixth of 12 Rivalry Nights this season, with San Diego posting 1-2-2 record to date. The previous two meetings between the clubs both needed extra time. On Jan. 22 in Ontario, Johnny Brodzinski scored the lone goal in the shootout to give the Reign a 3-2 victory and on Dec. 27 at Valley View Casino Center Vincent LoVerde tallied a power-play goal 40 seconds into the extra frame in a 2-1 Ontario win. San Diego’s only victory in the season series came at Citizens Business Bank Arena on Nov. 27, a 4-3 Gulls win. The Reign won the the two other matchups this season in San Diego with a 2-0 shutout victory on opening night, in addition to a 3-2 win on Dec. 13. The Gulls are 9-6-2 all-time vs. the Reign, including 5-2-1 on the road. Brandon Montour leads all Gulls skaters with 2-8=10 points in 16 career games vs. Ontario and Corey Tropp’s four goals (4-3=7) lead San Diego.
Right wing Corey Tropp currently leads the Gulls in goals (12), assists (22), points (34) and PPG (5), while he has tallied 4-4=8 points over his last five games and earned 6-7=13 points in the last 11 games overall. Rookie center Kalle Kossila ranks tied for second on San Diego and tied for 10th among AHL rookies with 9-20=29 points. He also ranks second on the Gulls in assists and leads the club with a +20 rating. His +20 ranting ranks tied for third among AHL leaders and second among league rookies. The rookie center has recorded 2-4=4 points his last five games, points in 10 of his last 11 (4-10=14) and 8-15=23 points his last 25.
Ontario currently sits in first place in the Pacific Division and has posted a 4-0-1 in their past five games. TJ Hensick (10-23=33) and Johnny Brodzinski pace (17-14=31) Ontario offensively. Brodzinski leads Ontario with six points (2g/4a) and has seven goals in his last five games. Goaltender Jack Campbell (20-6-4) leads the AHL with 20 wins and has started the last 24 straight contests going 17-4-3.
“We’ve liked our games against them this season,” said Gulls head coach Dallas Eakins. “If we can clean up some of the mistakes we’ve made in prior meetings, we will be okay this weekend.”