Oct. 4, 2017
Preparations for the 2017-18 season entered the second week as the Gulls took the ice for practice this morning at Valley View Casino Center. With the preseason in the rearview mirror, the Gulls are now looking forward to getting the regular season underway on the road this Saturday, Oct. 6 at the Tucson Roadrunners (7:05 p.m., AHL Live/Mighty 1090).
Finalizing the Roster
The club announced some roster moves today to set up the roster for the start of the upcoming season. Assigned to Utah (ECHL) were left wing Greger Hanson, right wing Zach Saar and right wing Kyle Thomas. Center Tyler Soy was released from his professional tryout and will return to the Victoria Royals of the Western Hockey League. San Diego now has 27 players remaining on its 2017 Training Camp roster – 16 forwards, eight defenseman and three goaltenders.
Will Over Skill
During the 2016-17 season the Gulls used the most players in the league, with 53 different players donning the black, blue, and orange. This season, club management has made a roster full of talented depth a top priority.
“This is the most depth we have had,” said head coach Dallas Eakins. “I think (Gulls General Manager) Bob Ferguson and (Ducks General Manager) Bob Murray have done an excellent job in giving us that depth. We all remember last year. We led the league in players used, so you need it.
“It’s probably the most skilled group that we have had,” said Eakins when asked about the type of team he expects to ice this year. “That’s a nice luxury to have, but we spoke to the group this morning. ‘It’s will over skill.’ We want to have a high will factor.”
One of the players that most comes to mind for Gulls fans when thinking about will is rugged forward Scott Sabourin. The Orleans, Ontario native is looking to build upon a solid first season for San Diego that saw him post 17 points (8G/9A) to go along with 147 penalty minutes in 54 games.
When asked about what he can contribute to the team this year he mentioned his willingness to provide the grinding, physical style that he is known for to compliment the flashier skill of his teammates.
“I’m just going to try and get them the puck and do my thing, work up the wall and throw the body every now and then,” said Sabourin. “If I can get the puck in the back of the net then that’s a bonus.”
Come Together Now
For all hockey teams this time of year, team bonding and chemistry are of paramount importance as coaches look for line combinations, defense pairings and leadership in the locker room. The Gulls are no different.
With a 68-game schedule, the Gulls will be spending plenty of time together. With this in mind, rookie right winger Austin Ortega stressed the need for the team to bond on and off the ice while assuring that the process has already started.
“We are around each other at the rink, we are around each other at the hotel, and in our time off we are with each other,” said the Escondido, Calif. native.
The Gulls home opener is nearly a week away, with the first home regular season contest set for Friday, Oct. 13 vs. the Texas Stars at Valley View Casino Center (7 p.m., FOX 5 San Diego/Mighty 1090).