April 5, 2017
The Gulls (40-17-3-2; 83 pts.) wrap up a three-game road trip and a 10-game season series with the Stockton Heat (31-25-4-2; 68 pts.) tonight at Stockton Arena (7:00 p.m., 1700-AM). San Diego is coming off a dominant sweep of a back-to-back set in Tucson last weekend that saw the Gulls outscore the Roadrunners 12-3 in two victories.
The wins pushed the Gulls to the best road win percentage in the AHL (19-9-2-1; .661), and the club boasts the third-best win percentage in the AHL (.685). The Gulls have also allowed the fewest goals against in the league overall (159) and on the road (79). The strong push to close out the regular season has helped the Gulls to a tie for the top win percentage in the Western Conference dating back to the beginning of 2015-16 with a 79-40-7-4 record in 130 games over the two seasons (.650 win percentage).
Over the weekend series in Tucson Gulls forward Spencer Abbott played a big part in San Diego’s offensive explosion, tallying 2-3=5 points over the two contests, including an impressive 0-3=3 assist game last Friday night. Abbott also has 3-8=11 points in 12 games since being acquired by the Anaheim Ducks from Chicago on Mar. 1.
“Last weekend was big for me,” said Abbott. “I’m just trying to contribute as much as I can and hopefully I can build some confidence after a couple of games like that.”
The Gulls, who have clinched a berth in the Calder Cup Playoffs for a second consecutive season, enter tonight with a 12-3-1-0 mark in the last 16 games, and wins in 22 of their last 28 contests (22-5-1-0) and 29 of the last 37 overall (29-6-1-1). San Diego has earned standings points in 17 of the last 22 (16-5-1-0), as well as points in 33 of 39 contests since Dec. 26 (29-6-2-2).
“We have a very good team here,” said Abbott. “It’s really been a thrill to be on a team that has so many good players and has been on a hot streak for a while here.”
San Diego has also had tremendous success on the road as of late, having earned standings points in 13 of the past 16 road games (12-3-1) and 17 of the last 21 contests (16-3-1-1) away from home.
San Diego has struggled against the Heat this season, posting a 3-6-0 record through nine games, including 1-3-0 at Stockton Arena. Stockton is the only team this season that has a winning record vs. San Diego in a season series this season. All-time, San Diego is 9-8-3-1 vs. the Heat, and 4-3-4-0 on the road. San Diego won the most recent matchup with a 3-2 victory over Stockton on Mar. 15 at Valley View Casino. Corey Tropp (4-7=11) leads active Gulls in career goals, assists and points vs. the Heat.
The other piece of the deal that Anaheim made with Chicago on Mar. 1 along with Abbott was veteran center Sam Carrick. Carrick has been impressive as a Gull, earning 3-8=11 points in 13 game and currently has a four-game road point streak (0-5=5) dating back to Mar. 18.
“We were lucky to be brought over here together,” said Abbott of the trade. “It has made the transition much easier and it’s nice to look on the bench and see a familiar face.”
Expected Gulls’ starter Jhonas Enroth has posted a 12-2-0 record with two shutouts, a 1.43 GAA and .945 SV% in 14 games since joining San Diego on Jan. 10. Enroth leads AHL goalies with a 1.71 GAA and .936 SV% (minimum 17 games) and has posted a 9-1-0 record with a 1.40 GAA and .946 SV% in 10 road starts since joining San Diego.
Stockton is 7-2-1 in its’ last 10 games and is tied with Bakersfield for the final playoff spot in the Pacific Division. Both the Heat and Condors have 68 points and six games remaining as the AHL regular season winds down. Mark Jankowski leads all Heat skaters with 26-25=51 points on the season, while Linden Vey paces the club with 33 assists. Goaltender David Rittich (13-11-2) ranks eighth among all qualified AHL goaltenders with a 2.28 GAA and .923 SV%.
“They are obviously a skilled team. They can hurt you if you turn the puck over,” added Abbott. “So we need to take care of the puck and make good decisions.”