March 24, 2017
The San Diego Gulls open up a home-and-home set against the Bakersfield Condors tonight at Rabobank Arena (7:00 p.m. PT, 1090-AM). The Gulls enter tonight with a 10-1-1-0 mark in the last 12 games, and have wins in 20 of their last 24 contests (20-3-1-0) and 27 of the last 33 overall (27-4-1-1). San Diego has earned standings points in 11 of the last 12 games (10-1-1), 15 of the last 18 (14-3-1-0), as well as points in 31 of 35 contests since Christmas (27-4-2-2).
The Gulls have won 10 of the past 12 road games (10-1-1) and earned standings points in 16 of the last 18 road contests (14-2-1-1) dating back to Dec. 29 which has propelled the team to the second-best road win percentage in the AHL (.661; 17-8-2-1) and the fewest road goals against in the league (71). San Diego has the second-best win percentage (.698) in the AHL and second in the Western Conference behind San Jose. The Gulls remaining 10 contests this season (five home, five road) will come against Pacific Division opponents where the Gulls have posted a 32-14-2-2 record in the division.
With a win tonight, the Gulls can clinch a second-consecutive Calder Cup Playoffs berth and match last year’s total of 39 wins with nine games remaining. Last season, the club clinched a playoff berth against this same Condors team on April 7, 2016 with a wild 6-5 comeback victory that saw San Diego erase a three-goal deficit. Any scenario with a Gulls win, or a Stockton Heat loss at Texas tonight (regulation, overtime or shootout loss) will see San Diego clinch.
The Gulls and Condors face off for the sixth of eight matchups, and the final contest at Rabobank Arena this season, where San Diego has posted a 5-0-0 record to date, including a 3-0-0 mark at Bakersfield. San Diego is 11-6-0-0 all-time vs. the Condors, including 4-4-0-0 in Bakersfield. The Gulls won the most recent meeting on Feb. 17 with a tightly-contested 3-2 victory behind Nic Kerdiles’ two point night (1-1=2) and Dustin Tokarski’s 24 saves at Rabobank Arena, in addition to a 4-0 shutout win on Feb. 12 in San Diego. Antoine Laganiere leads all active Gulls skaters in goals and assists with 7-7=14 points in 14 career games vs. Bakersfield and Dustin Tokarski has posted a 4-0-0 record with a 1.92 GAA and .931 SV% in his four appearances against the Condors this season.
Corey Tropp has driven the Gulls’ offense all season and now ranks tied for eighth among league leaders with 21-32=53 points. The Michigan native has scored eight goals in his last nine games (8-5=13) and has earned points in 11 of his last 12 contests (9-7=16). Tropp leads the Gulls in scoring (53), goals (21) and power-play goals (11), while co-leads the club in assists with 32. On March 18 at San Antonio, Tropp set the club record for goals in a single season (21), surpassing Chris Mueller’s 20 goals in 2015-16. He also set a career milestone on Wednesday night, tallying his 100th career AHL assist with a helper on Kalle Kossila’s empty-net goal.
In goal for San Diego, Dustin Tokarski (16-6-1) has been a strong presence in net, posting a 7-0-0 record with one shutout, a 2.19 GAA and .922 SV% in his last eight appearances. In his last three starts, Tokarski has posted a 3-0-0 record with a 1.33 GAA and .960 SV% to help drive the Gulls down the home stretch.
Bakersfield is looking to clinch a playoff berth down the final stretch of the 2016-17 season and the Condors enter tonight sitting in fourth place in the division, with a .544 win percentage, only three points ahead of fifth place Stockton for the final Pacific Division playoff spot. Center Anton Lander has earned 46 points to date with a team-leading 22 goals (22-24=46). In goal, rookie Nick Ellis (13-10-2) has been steady between the pipes with a 2.74 GAA and .919 SV% in 27 games this season.