Oct. 26, 2017
Fresh off of their thrilling 4-3 shootout victory over the Stockton Heat on Wednesday night at Valley View Casino Center, the Gulls hit the road again for a back-to-back matchup this weekend at Texas and San Antonio. San Diego opens the weekend trip at the Texas Stars tonight (5:30 p.m. PT, Mighty 1090-AM) at H-E-B Center for the third matchup this season.
Entering tonight, the Gulls have won 13 consecutive road games outside of California dating back to Oct. 29, 2016 (5-4 loss @ Manitoba). The Gulls have not lost a game outside of California in the U.S. since Jan. 23, 2016 at Texas (6-3 loss). San Diego has the second-highest win percentage among Western Conference clubs the past three seasons (85-46-7-4, .637%), and the Gulls also have the most wins in the Pacific Division since its inception in 2015 (85). San Diego has a 35-12-2-2 record since Dec. 26, 2016, with the .725 win percentage leading the AHL, 74 points co-leading the league, and the 34 wins second among AHL clubs.
The Gulls went 2-0-0-0 last season in Cedar Park, Texas, the home of the Stars, and are 3-2-0-0 all-time. Last season, the Gulls outscored the Stars at 7-1 at the H-E-B Center as they won both contests in Texas.
This season the two clubs split the first two games back on October 13th and 14th in San Diego, with the Stars putting a damper on the Gulls’ home opener with a 3-1 win buoyed by a 27 save performance by goaltender Mike McKenna. San Diego responded a night later with a strong 5-1 win to go along with a 19-save performance by Kevin Boyle and the first professional goals from both Alex Dostie and Giovanni Fiore to even the season series at a win apiece.
Gulls Head Coach Dallas Eakins knows the run-and-gun style of the Stars will present its challenges but stressed the need for his team to stick to the game plan.
“It will be a team (Texas) that loves offense, it will be wide open, and we don’t want to get caught into that,” said Eakins. “We want to make sure we stay out of the penalty box as they have always had a great power play. We will just keep hammering home habits. We are more worried about how we are going to play, rather than how they are.”
Kevin Roy (3-4=7) leads all active Gulls skaters in points and goals against the Stars. Kevin Boyle is 3-1-0 with one shutout, a 1.01 GAA and .914 SV% in four career games vs. Texas, including his first career shutout in a 4-0 win over the Stars in a 22-save performance on Dec. 29, 2016.
Rookie forward Giovanni Fiore scored his second goal of the season and tallied the shootout-winning goal. With the goal, Fiore has earned points in all five games played this season (2-3=5) to extended his point streak to five games and his club record for points in consecutive games to start a career. Another rookie, center Mitch Hults, is looking to build off of his first career multi-goal performance against Stockton on Wednesday.
“He has really invested his time here,” Eakins said when asked about Hults following San Diego’s win over Stockton. “It’s always good to get a couple of goals to go along with these new habits that we are forming.”
Texas began the season with three wins, but since the 5-1 loss against the Gulls on Oct. 14, Texas has lost three straight to now sit at .500 with a 3-3-0-1 record.
The Stars are led by veteran forward Travis Morin who has tallied eight points in seven games (2G/6A) and Jason Dickinson who leads the club with five goals and six points (5G/1A). Between the pipes, Mike McKenna has appeared in all seven games for the Stars, collecting a 3-2-1 record with a 3.04 GAA and .890 SV%.