Dec. 31, 2016
SAN DIEGO – The San Diego Gulls (12-11-2-1; 27 points) close out the 2016 calendar year as they visit the Texas Stars (15-12-1-1; 32 points) tonight at H-E-B Center (5 p.m., 1700-AM). The Gulls have earned points in three consecutive games (1-0-1-1) and have posted a 4-6-1 record away from home this season, having played the fewest road games in the AHL this season (11; tied with BAK).
The Gulls have earned standings points in 11 of the last 17 games (10-6-1-1) and tonight marks the final of 12 December games for San Diego, which equals a season high for games in a single month (also 12 games in February and March). Tonight’s game will see the Gulls face a divisional opponent for the 17th consecutive game dating back to Nov. 18 that has seen San Diego go 8-6-1-1 to date.
The Gulls face off against the Stars for the third time this season, with the Gulls winning both meetings this season by a combined 9-4 score. Kevin Boyle backstopped San Diego to a 4-0 win over the Texas Stars two night’s ago with a 22-save performance to earn his first career AHL win. The Gulls received goals from Andy Welinski, Stefan Noesen, Jordan Samuels-Thomas and Kalle Kossila in the win, with Welinski providing the game-winner and Samuels-Thomas scoring a penalty shot goal, the second successful penalty shot in club history (also Kenny Ryan on Jan. 19, 2016 vs. San Jose).
Through the first 25 games this season, the biggest trend for San Diego is getting off to a quick start. The Gulls have an 8-1-1 record when scoring the game’s first goal and have a spotless 10-0-0 record when leading after the first period. Even more important is carrying a lead into the final period, as the Gulls have posted an 9-0-1 mark when leading after two periods of play, including 40-0-1 dating back to last season.
San Diego opened the season series with a 5-4 win on Oct. 22 at Valley View Casino Center and improved to 2-0 over the Stars last night with a 4-0 shutout win. Texas owns the all-time series over San Diego with a 5-3 record, having won five of the six meetings during the 2015-16 season. Texas is 2-2 at home vs. San Diego all-time. San Diego will face Texas on one other occasion this campaign at Valley View Casino Center on Feb. 24. Stefan Noesen paces all Gulls skaters with 2-3=5 points in eight career contests.
Rookie goaltender Kevin Boyle (1-2-2) is expected to get the nod for his second consecutive game after compiling a 2.16 goals-against average (GAA) and .926 save percentage (SV%) in five appearances. In his past two games Boyle has earned a 1-0-1 record, stopping 48-of-50 shots for a 0.97 GAA and .960 SV%.
Corey Tropp leads the Gulls in points (22) and assists (16) this season, and ranks tied for second among team leaders in goals scored (6). Kevin Roy leads San Diego in goals (10) and ranks tied for fourth among all rookies in goals scored.
Texas is led by veteran center Travis Morin who leads the Stars in goals (11) and scoring with 11-14=25 points. Brandon DeFazio co-leads Texas in assists with Mmorin and Justin Downing, and has earned 10-14=24 points this season.
Following tonight’s game the Gulls return to Southern California for a weekend back-to-back vs. the San Antonio Rampage at Valley View Casino Center on Jan. 6-7, 2017.