March 22, 2017
The San Diego Gulls (37-15-3-2, 79 pts.) conclude their 10-game season series with the San Jose Barracuda (38-13-2-4, 82 pts.) tonight at Valley View Casino Center (7:00 p.m., 1700-AM). The Gulls are coming off a two-game sweep of the San Antonio Rampage last weekend and enter tonight with a 9-1-1-0 record in the last 11 games. San Diego also has wins in 19 of their last 23 contests (19-3-1-0) and 26 of the last 32 overall (26-4-1-1), as well as standings points in 10 of the last 11 games (9-1-1), 14 of the last 17 (13-2-1-0), and points in 30 of 34 contests since Christmas (26-4-2-2).
“Playing San Jose is always a big test,” said defenseman Jaycob Megna on tonight’s game. “This is our last shot at them in the regular season, so we would like to take advantage of it.”
The Gulls have won six consecutive home games dating back to Feb. 24, matching the club record set on three previous occasions, including Jan. 7 to Feb. 14, Nov. 11 to Dec. 6, 2016 and Oct. 10 to Nov. 11, 2015. San Diego also has the third-best win percentage in the AHL (.693) and sit second behind San Jose in the Pacific Division and Western Conference, while the club ranks second in the League with 147 goals against. San Diego’s remaining 11 contests this season (five home, six road) will come against Pacific Division opponents where the Gulls have posted a 31-14-2-2 record in the division.
“We aren’t looking ahead at all,” said Gulls head coach Dallas Eakins when asked about the playoffs. “We have 11 important games left that we need to take care of first. I think our guys will approach them the way we have all season long.”
San Diego and San Jose face off for the 10th and final time this season to close out the season series at Valley View Casino Center. In the competitive season series, each club has maintained home ice advantage through nine games to date with San Jose winning each of its five home contests, as well as San Diego winning its four to date. The Gulls are 12-6-2-1 all-time vs. the Barracuda, including 7-2-1-1 on home ice. The most recent matchup between the clubs saw San Jose post a 3-0 shutout win at SAP Center on Mar. 12, the third such scoreline in San Jose this season. The Gulls are 4-0-0 this season on home ice, having outscored San Jose 19-9 in the four games, with the most recent matchup between the clubs coming on Mar. 8 that saw a wild 7-6 win by the Gulls. Shea Theodore paces active Gulls skaters with 2-14=16 points in 13 career games vs. San Jose, while Antoine Laganiere leads the club in goals (6-3=9) in 18 contests.
“The whole season series has been pretty even,” said Kalle Kossila. “Both teams have won on home ice and we want to continue that trend on Wednesday night. We are looking forward to the challenge.”
Corey Tropp has eight goals in his last nine games (8-4=12), points in 10 of his last 11 games (9-6=15), 13-13=26 points over his last 21 games and 31 points in the last 29 games overall (15-16=31). Tropp leads the Gulls in scoring (21-31=52), goals and power play goals (11), while he ranks second on the club in assists. He also ranks tied for ninth among AHL leaders in scoring. Tropp set the club record for goals (21) in a single season on Mar. 18 at San Antonio, surpassing Chris Mueller’s 20 goals in 2015-16, and also became the third player in club history to record 50 points in a season, joining Mueller (20-37=57) and Brandon Montour (12-45=57).
Kevin Boyle has posted a 10-2-3 record with one shutout, a 2.07 GAA and .930 SV% his last 15 appearances. Among AHL rookies, Boyle leads in GAA (2.22) and SV% (.926), and ranks tied for eighth in shutouts (1).
San Jose clinched a playoff berth with a 3-1 win over the Stockton Heat on Saturday evening. The Barracuda enter tonight with the highest win percentage in the AHL (.719) while having allowed the fewest goals in the league (145). Defenseman Tim Heed has earned 48 points to date (12G/36A) which ranks fourth among all league blueliners this season, but his 1.07 points-per game is tops among league defensemen. In goal, rookie Troy Grosenick (26-8-3) has been steady between the pipes leading the AHL in shutouts, ranking second in SV% (.931), tied for first in GAA (2.03) and in wins.