October 30, 2015

GAME PREVIEW: Gulls return home for back-to-back contests against the Stockton Heat at Valley View Casino Center (7:05 p.m.).

The Gulls are back in San Diego after a three-game road trip where they took two of three games.

San Diego took their first game of a two-game series vs. the San Jose Barracuda, a 3-2 shootout victory at SAP Center in San Jose, CA. Down by two in the first period, the Gulls battled back, just before the intermission, with a power play goal by defenseman Brandon Montour at 19:54 of the first frame. Montour’s goal, his second of the season, brought San Diego within one, just before the break. At 6:26 of the second period, San Diego tied the game at two as Harry Zolnierczyk deflected a shot by Shea Theodore, past Barracuda goaltender Troy Grosenick. Zolnierczyk’s game-tying goal was his second of the season. Theodore and Shane O’Brien each added their second assists of 2015-16. A scoreless five-minute overtime period led to the Gulls’ second straight shootout, which ended in a Gulls victory with the go-ahead goal by left wing Nick Ritchie. Goaltender John Gibson stopped 2-of-2 shots in the shootout, playing a big role in the win.

San Diego matched up with San Jose again, just two days after the 3-2 shootout victory, this time shutting out the Barracuda 3-0. Gulls goaltender John Gibson notched his first shutout victory of the 2015-16 AHL season, stopping all 23 shots faced. Stu Bickel and Vincent Arseneau set the tone early as they dropped the gloves, each receiving five minutes for fighting. Just 3:24 later, Gulls forward Chris Wagner, who was assigned to San Diego on Oct. 20, found a loose puck just above the blue line and netted a one-on-none goal against goaltender Aaron Dell, giving San Diego the 1-0 lead early in the first frame. Wagner’s goal was assisted by Brandon Montour, his first of two assists on the night. San Diego went up 2-0 at 18:11 of the opening period as center Chris Mueller put in a rebound off the pads of Barracuda goalie Dell, Mueller’s first goal of the season. Center Chris Wagner and defenseman Jaycob Megna assisted on Mueller’s first period tally. The Gulls and Barracuda traded penalties during the second period before Nick Ritchie received a pass from Brandon Montour in front of the net and put in his fourth of the season (4-1=5). Ritchie’s power play goal, assisted by Montour and Michael Sgarbossa, gave San Diego the 3-0 which they held for the final period.

The Gulls first loss of the season came the following day, a 3-0 shutout loss. Bakersfield opened scoring at 6:09 of the first period with a tally by Phillip McRae, assisted by Kyle Platzer. McRae’s tally was his second of the season. San Diego got into penalty trouble in the second period, putting them a man-down six times in the first 40 minutes of play. Condors captain Ryan Hamilton notched a power play goal early in the third period, increasing the deficit to 3-0 in favor of Bakersfield. A line brawl with 11:09 remaining in the third led to five game misconducts for the Gulls (Bickel, Mueller, A. O’Brien, Wagner and Zolnierczyk) and five for fighting and two for roughing to Bickel. The Condors received four game misconducts (Kessey, LaLeggia, Moroz and Winquist) as well as a two-minute penalty for roughing to David Musil in the altercations. San Diego’s bench was diminished to only nine while the Bakersfield bench to 10.

The Gulls and the Stockton Heat (AHL affiliate of the Calgary Flames) will meet for the first of 12 meetings this season, tonight. Six of these contests (including tonight’s) will be held at Valley View Casino Center and six will be held at Stockton Arena in Stockton, CA. The Heat are 2-2-0-0 with four points for the season thus far. The Gulls have 8 points for the season with a record of 4-1-0-0.