April 12, 2017
The Gulls (40-20-2-3, 85 pts.) take on the Bakersfield Condors (32-27-5-1, 70 pts.) for the final time this season tonight at Valley View Casino Center (7:00 p.m, 1090-AM). San Diego returns home for the final weekday contest of the regular season after a disheartening weekend sweep at the hands of the Ontario Reign.
“We just want to get back to some good habits before the playoffs start,” said Gulls rookie Kalle Kossila. “We will feel better about ourselves if we get some goals and some wins over the next three games.”
The Gulls, who have clinched a berth in the Calder Cup Playoffs for a second consecutive season, enter tonight with a 12-6-1-0 mark in the last 19 games, and have wins in 22 of their last 31 contests (22-8-1-0) and 29 of the last 40 overall (29-9-1-1). San Diego has earned standings points in 17 of the last 25 (16-8-1-0), as well as points in 33 of 42 contests since Dec. 26 (29-9-2-2). San Diego has won seven of its last nine home games dating back to Feb. 24 and has posted a 13-3-0 record at home since Jan. 7. The Gulls rank third in the Western Conference and fourth in the AHL with a .654 win percentage. The Gulls remaining three games this season (two home, one road) will come against Pacific Division opponents where the Gulls have posted a 33-19-2-2 record.
Tonight’s game has an added emphasis in the Pacific Division with the Gulls only needing one point to clinch home ice in the First Round of the Calder Cup Playoffs. San Diego is already slated to matchup vs. the aforementioned Ontario Reign, but one point from the Gulls guarantees home ice with the Gulls holding the tiebreaker for percentage of games won (excluding shootout wins) with 37 and Ontario sitting at 33 with three games remaining on the schedule.
The Gulls and Condors face off in the penultimate matchup of the eight-game season series, and the fourth at Valley View Casino Center. San Diego has posted a 5-2-0 record to date this season, including a 2-1-0-0 mark at home. San Diego is 11-8-0-0 all-time vs. the Condors, including 7-3-0-0 on home ice. In the last contest between the teams, the Gulls dropped a 3-1 decision in their first loss on home ice to Bakersfield this season as the Condors swept a weekend home-and-home series. Antoine Laganiere leads all active Gulls skaters in goals and assists with 7-7=14 points in 16 career games vs. Bakersfield while goaltender Dustin Tokarski has posted a 4-1-0 record against the Condors this season.
Kossila has 4-8=12 points his last 18 games and 9-23=32 points his last 39. He ranks second on San Diego and is fourth among AHL rookies in scoring (14-33=47). He ranks fourth among league newcomers in assists (33), co-leads the Gulls in assists and ranks second in +/- (+17). His +17 rating is tied for fourth among AHL rookies. Kossila set a career high eight-game point streak from Dec. 29-Jan. 20 (4-8=12) the longest on the club this season.
“I think I have done some good things so far this season,” Kossila acknowledged. “That said, my linemates and I are not where we want to be right now. We’ve been watching film, taking notes and talking a lot so we can improve our game.”
Bakersfield enters tonight sitting in fourth place in the division, with a .538 win percentage, only three points behind Stockton for the final Pacific Division playoff spot. Both the Heat and Condors each have three games remaining. Center Anton Lander has earned 55 points to date with a team-leading 25 goals (25-30=55) and has the highest points-per game in the AHL (1.41). In goal, Jonas Gustavsson (8-9-1) has been steady between the pipes with a 2.42 GAA and .917 SV% in 20 games this season and is expected to get the start for the Condors.
“They swept us two weekends ago and are a very desperate team,” Kossila said. “Tonight’s game is their biggest of the season, so we are going to have be ready to go.”