April 14, 2017
The Gulls (41-20-3-2, 87 pts.) conclude their 2016-17 road schedule as they kick off a back-to-back, home-and-home series against the Ontario Reign (36-20-10-0, 82 pts.) tonight at Citizens Business Bank Arena (7:00 p.m. PT, 1700-AM). The Gulls return to action after snapping a three-game losing streak and clinching home-ice in the first round of the Calder Cup Playoffs with a 5-1 win over the Bakersfield Condors on Wednesday night.
“Our fans have a great effect on our team,” said Gulls head coach Dallas Eakins when asked about earning home-ice. “To be able to play an extra game at home bodes well for us. Plus, we get the last line change so we can put out the players that we think will have the most success in certain situations.”
The Gulls, who have clinched a berth in the Calder Cup Playoffs for a second consecutive season, enter tonight with a 13-6-1-0 mark in the last 20 games, and have wins in 23 of their last 32 contests (23-8-1-0) and 30 of the last 41 overall (30-9-1-1). San Diego has earned standings points in 18 of the last 26 (17-8-1-0), as well as points in 34 of 43 contests since Dec. 26 (30-9-2-2). San Diego has won eight of its last 10 home games dating back to Feb. 24 and has posted a 14-3-0 record at home since Jan. 7. The Gulls rank second in the Western Conference and fourth in the AHL with a .659 win percentage. The Gulls remaining two games this season (one home, one road) will come against Pacific Division opponents where the Gulls have posted a 34-19-2-2 record.
“We want to finish up the season on a high-note and we can do that with two wins this weekend,” said Gulls veteran Nate Guenin. “We worked hard all season to make the playoffs and we should approach these last two games the same way.”
The Gulls and Reign face off for the 11th of 12 Rivalry Nights this season, with San Diego posting 4-4-1-1 against Ontario this season and earning points in all four of five road contests (3-1-0-1 at Citizens Business Bank Arena). The Gulls have won three of last five contests between the clubs, and are 12-8-1-1 all-time vs. the Reign, including 7-4-0-1 on the road. Corey Tropp leads active Gulls skaters with 4-5=9 points in 11 career games vs. Ontario and Antoine Laganiere’s five goals (5-0=5) lead San Diego. Jhonas Enroth has posted a 3-1-0 record with a 1.74 GAA and .938 SV%.
The two contests this weekend serve as a preview for the best-of-five series the teams will take part in beginning on Friday, Apr. 21 at Valley View Casino Center.
“We have to continue to emphasize good habits this weekend,” said defenseman Jaycob Megna. “That means attention to detail, staying out of the box and winning our match-ups. That’s what it is going to take to beat them in the playoffs.”
Megna has had a fantastic season as he continues to lead the AHL with a +34 rating this season and ranks second among active Gulls defensemen in goals (5), assists (22) and points (26). The 24-year-old already set career highs in goals, assists and points, surpassing last year’s previous career high of 0-12=12 points.
Ontario is 7-5-1 in their last 13 games while.T.J. Hensick (16-36=52) and Mike Amadio (15-24=39) lead the Reign in scoring, while goaltender Jack Campbell (31-14-6) leads the AHL with 31 wins and has played the second most minutes of any goaltender in the league (3012 minutes). Reign forward Jonny Brodzinski, who is currently up with the Kings, leads the head-to-head series for the club against the Gulls with eight points (3G/5A) and Hensick leads the series with four goals. Forward Sean Backman leads all active skaters in the series with six points (1G/5A).