Sept. 28, 2017
The San Diego Gulls open the 2017 preseason today at 10 a.m. with a visit to Citizens Business Bank Arena to face the Ontario Reign. Today’s game marks the start of third season of hockey for the Gulls in San Diego after a successful first two campaigns in America’s Finest City.
Following up on a second consecutive postseason appearance in the Pacific Division Finals of the Calder Cup Playoffs last spring, the two Pacific Division rivals will face off for the first time since the Gulls eliminated the Reign in the First Round.
The Gulls begin 2017-18 in a familiar place against a Reign team they’ve faced 34 times the previous two seasons, not to mention an additional 10 occasions in the playoffs.
In 2016-17 the teams met 12 times in the regular season, with San Diego posting a 6-4-1-1 record overall and a 4-1-0-1 mark at Citizens Business Bank Arena. All-time, the Gulls are 14-8-1-1 vs. Ontario in the regular season (6-5-1-0 at home, 8-3-0-1 on road). In the 2016 Calder Cup Playoffs, the Gulls fell to the Reign in Game 5 (4-1) of the best-of-seven series.
With a new season and only three days of Gulls Training Camp behind, the first of three preseason matchups bring a rivalry feel and laying a foundation for what all hope to be a long season.
“Hopefully guys can prove themselves, it’s a rivalry game, every time we play Ontario it’s gonna be an intense game,” said Gulls defenseman Keaton Thompson. “Hopefully [we] come out and play hard and show them our game.”
To date, the Gulls Training Camp roster has been comprised of INSERT returning players from last season and eight former Anaheim Ducks draft selections. With a number of players having just spent time with the Anaheim Ducks during the NHL club’s preseason, many of the Gulls and Reign players expected to play today faced off against one another when the parent club Ducks and Los Angeles Kings met just a week ago.
In facing a rival opponent early on in the season, the Gulls locker room understands the importance of setting the tone.
“It’s the first game you know, just get in a game situation again, try to be a good leader out there for the guys here on tryouts and younger guys,” said Nic Kerdiles, who led the Gulls in postseason scoring last spring with eight points (4G/4A). “Try to lead by example and have a good game.”
Gulls Head Coach Dallas Eakins echoed the sentiments of his players when asked about the start of a new season.
“We are ready to get on the journey full of ups and downs,” said Gulls head coach Dallas Eakins. “We started today to prepare to win hockey games and develop hockey players. It was great to see the guys from last year push the pace and set the example of how we do work. It was heartening.”
The Gulls will host their first preseason contest on Saturday, Sept. 30 vs. the Tucson Roadrunners at Valley View Casino Center (7 p.m.) A Fan Fest will be held before the game from 5-7 p.m. in the North parking lot of the arena.
San Diego will also host the Ontario Reign on Monday, Oct. 2 at Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. (7 p.m.). The game and parking will be free of charge to all fans. Fans can register for free tickets at SanDiegoGulls.com/hondacenter.