Nov. 10, 2017

The Gulls kick off Military Weekend as they continue their season-long five-game homestand against the Stockton Heat tonight at Valley View Casino Center (7 p.m., FOX 5 San Diego, Mighty 1090-AM). Tonight will mark the third annual Military Weekend, and fans in attendance will receive a camouflage hat (limited while supplies last) and see the Gulls don a custom camouflage jersey.

San Diego (5-5-1-0, 11 pts.) will be looking to bounce back from a lackluster performance on Wednesday night that saw them fall by a 6-2 score line to Texas. The Gulls will try to use the quick turnaround to put Wednesday’s contest behind them and move forward as they prepare for a back-to-back at home.

“We have to clear our heads and be ready to start, to be alert,” said Gulls head coach Dallas Eakins. “You are going to have to push yourself to have an impact if we are going to have a chance to win,” he said of his players.

Veteran center Sam Carrick echoed the sentiments of his coach, and added some thoughts on the necessary improvement following Wednesday’s loss.

“We know that this is unacceptable, we have been taking too many penalties lately,” said Carrick. “Shift length has been a little too long lately. It’s early, but at the same time it’s not that early. We need to get on a roll here soon and it starts with the older guys bringing the rookies in and showing them what work ethic looks like. We are going to have to have a good bounce back night.”

With their fourth matchup of the year against Stockton, the Gulls can expect a tough, competitive contest against a physical Heat club. All-time, San Diego has a 10-11-3-1 record against Stockton in 25 matchups since 2015, with San Diego posting a 7-3-2-0 record on home ice. San Diego won the most recent matchups between these two clubs, a 4-3 shootout win by the Gulls on Oct. 25 at Valley View Casino Center.

Stockton won the first two matchups of 2017-18, a 4-2 win on Oct. 20 and a 6-3 win on Oct. 21. San Diego has won the last three matchups at Valley View Casino Center, including Oct. 25, Jan. 11, 2017 (5-3 SD win) and Mar. 15, 2017 (3-2 SD win). Corey Tropp leads active Gulls skaters in career goals and scoring vs. the Heat, earning 4-7=11 points in 15 career games.

One element to watch for in tonight’s game is the San Diego power play. The Gulls have scored 16 power play goals in their first 11 games, including tallies in 10 of the 11 games to begin the season (16-for-65, 24.6%). The Gulls’ 24.6% mark on the man advantage ranks first in the Western Conference and second in the AHL.

The Heat come into San Diego with a 7-4-0-1 mark (15 pts) and are led in scoring by left winger Andrew Mangiapane (6-10=16) and right winger Garnet Hathaway (7-6=13). The biggest strength of the team this season has come from the goaltending tandem of Jon Gillies (4-3-1) and David Rittich (3-1-0), who have already combined for three shutouts on the young season. Gillies has posted a 2.50 GAA and .918 SV% in his eight appearances, while Rittich has a 2.00 GAA and .937 SV%.

Military Weekend continues tomorrow evening as the Gulls host the Ontario Reign at Valley View Casino Center (7 p.m., Mighty 1090 AM).