Oct. 2, 2017
The Gulls (0-1-0-1) conclude the 2017 preseason tonight as they host the Ontario Reign (2-0-0-0) for the third-annual exhibition contest between the clubs tonight at Honda Center (7 p.m., FOX Sports GO/ESPN 1700-AM). In what has becoming a tradition for the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings organizations’ AHL clubs to face off at Honda Center, tonight’s game will see a potential of 10 Ducks draft picks.
In a budding rivalry between organizations, the Gulls and Reign have faced one another 34 times in the regular season and playoffs the past two-plus years, in addition to exhibition contests in Ontario and Anaheim.
San Diego has dropped both of its preseason contests to date, a 2-0 shutout loss vs. the Tucson Roadrunners Saturday evening at Valley View Casino Center, and a 4-3 shootout loss at Ontario on Sept. 28.
When these two Pacific Division rivals meeting just last Thursday, Tyler Soy, Kyle Thomas and Mitch Hults tallied goals for the Gulls, while rookie goaltender Angus Redmond stopped 18-of-20 shots in 40 minutes of action. Goaltender Kevin Carr relieved Redmond to start the third period, stopping 24-of-25 shots in 25 minutes of action. Julius Nattinen scored the lone shootout goal for San Diego.
In the 2-0 loss on Saturday to Tucson, it was Nattinen that caught head coach Dallas Eakins’ eye with his strong performance. For Nattinen, it’s important that the team enters the regular season on a positive note and crucial they keep building on what they have been working on in training camp.
“I think we played pretty well yesterday, just didn’t score,” the Finnish native said when looking back on Saturday’s contest. “Let’s (play) our own game and keep going.”
Saturday’s game saw a total of 16 man advantages, with both the Gulls and Roadrunners going 0-for-8 on their respective power plays. Heading into tonight, Eakins wants his team to continue to focus on special teams, and particularly the power play, which has yet to get on the board this preseason.
“It was quite evident we haven’t had those power play units together at all yet,” said Eakins following Saturday night’s 2-0 loss to Tucson. “It may be something we start focusing on moving forward.”
In the 2016-17 regular season, the teams faced off 12 times with San Diego posting a 6-4-1-1 record against Ontario and a 2-3-1-0 mark at home. On the road, the Gulls earned points in five of six contests in the season series, going 4-1-0-1 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). The two clubs have met twice in the past two postseasons, with the Gulls eliminating the Reign in the first round of the Calder Cup Playoffs in a deciding Game 5. San Diego fell to Ontario in five games (4-1) in the Pacific Division Finals in 2016.
The game and parking will be free of charge to all fans. Fans can register for free tickets at SanDiegoGulls.com/hondacenter.