Jan. 3, 2018
The Gulls (15-13-1-0, 31 pts., .534 win %) open the 2018 calendar year with the conclusion of a three-game road trip in the state of Texas tonight at the Texas Stars (18-12-3-1, 40 pts., .588%) at H-E-B Center (5:30 p.m., ESPN-1700 AM). Tonight’s game marks the final contest of a six-game seasons series between the two teams that has seen San Diego post a 2-2-1 record to date. The Gulls begin their 11-game January schedule tonight where the club have earned a 12-7-1-1 record all-time in the opening month of the year.
Coming into tonight, Corey Tropp has a career-high eight-game point streak (5-6=11). Tropp is one game shy of matching the all-time Gulls record of points in nine straight games set by Nic Kerdiles from Feb. 26-Mar. 18, 2016 (7-9=16). He scored the lone goal in a stunning 2-1 loss that saw the San Antonio Rampage score two goals in the final 92 seconds, with David Warsofsky’s game-winning goal coming with 0.2 seconds left in regulation. The Gulls look to win two of three on their trip that book ends the new year after these teams met just five nights ago at the start of the current three-game trek. San Diego won that contest, 6-3, as they received three-point games from both Kalle Kossila (1-2=3) and Eric Fehr (2-1=3), while Tropp tallied two assists on the night.
The Gulls completed their December 2017 schedule with an 8-3-0-0 record, the first winning record in the final month of the year and the most wins in the month of December all-time. The eight wins are double the amount of wins combined from December 2015 (4-5-0-0) and 2016 (4-6-1-1). San Diego completed the 2017 calendar year with a 45-22-2-1 record to lead all Western Conference teams with a .664 win percentage from Jan. 1-Dec. 31, 2017, and ranked tied for second overall with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (48-23-2-3, .664%) behind only Toronto (52-25-3-0, .669%). The team has also won six of the last eight contests (6-2-0-0) and three of their last four road games (3-1-0-0).
An anomaly in their last game where San Antonio trailed 1-0 for more than 40 minutes, it marked only the first time San Diego had not earned a point when scoring the game’s first goal. The Gulls have compiled a 9-1-1-0 record when scoring first this season. They also carried a lead into the third period, where over the course of the club’s three-year history, the team has a 69-3-2-0 all-time.
Gulls goaltender Kevin Boyle (8-6-1) has posted a 4-2-1 record with one shutout, a 2.29 GAA and .921 SV% in seven career games against Texas. In four starts at H-E-B Center he has a 3-0-1 record with a 1.74 GAA and .944 SV%, along with his first career shutout Dec. 29, 2016 (4-0 win).
Texas has been inactive since these teams met Dec. 30 and have earned points in three of their last four games (1-1-2-0) and are 4-3-3-0 their last 10 games. Stars forward Curtis McKenzie has been a force against San Diego this season, earning seven points (4G/3A) in the five games, including a hat trick as part of a five-point game on Nov. 8. McKenzie leads the Stars with 14 goals on the season and ranks only behind veteran center Travis Morin who ranks eighth among league leaders with 32 points (5G/27A), with his 27 helpers ranking third among AHL leaders.
Landon Bow (11-7-2) got the nod five night’s ago, and has posted a 3.00 GAA and .898 save percentage in 21 appearances. The Stars could also turn to veteran Mike McKenna (7-5-2), a veteran of 13 AHL seasons who has posted a 3.31 GAA and .880 SV% in 15 appearances this season.
Note: Gulls defenseman Jeff Schultz won the 2017 Spengler Cup with Team Canada on Dec. 31, 2017 following a 3-0 victory in the final against Team Switzerland. The Spengler Cup is the oldest club tournament in the world and the final evaluation tournament prior to the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea. A native of Calgary, Alberta, Schultz was one of three AHL players to be named to Canada’s Spengler Cup roster, and he earned one assist in four Spengler Cup game.