Dec. 5, 2017

San Diego play the third game of a season-long five-game road trip tonight against the Milwaukee Admirals, the primary affiliate of the Nashville Predators, at UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena (5 p.m., ESPN 1700-AM). For the Gulls (8-10-1-0, 17 pts., .447 win %) tonight marks the first of three consecutive games in the Midwest against Central Division opponents in a span of five days.

In a rare trip for the Gulls, who typically travel to the midwest once or twice in their 68-game regular season schedule, San Diego will face an unfamiliar. San Diego and Milwaukee (11-9-1-0, 23 pts., .548 win %) begin a two-game season series, with these two clubs having last met on Feb. 6, 2016 (4-1 SD win), while they split their only season series in 2015-16 (1-1). The Gulls have had success against opponents in the Central Division, winning six consecutive games dating back to last season. All-time, the Gulls have posted a 10-5-1-0 record the Central (2-2 vs. Charlotte, 1-1 vs. Grand Rapids, 2-0 vs. Iowa, 2-1-1 vs. Manitoba, 1-1 vs. Milwaukee, 2-0 vs. Rockford), including a 4-3-1 record on the road and 6-2-0 mark at home.

Only three players on the Gulls roster remain from the last contest between the clubs, with Stu Bickel, Nic Kerdiles and Jaycob Megna having faced off against the Admirals two seasons ago. Of the five goals San Diego has scored against Milwaukee, Megna is the only active Gull to tally a point (assist) in those contests against Milwaukee.

The Gulls are coming off one of the most emphatic wins of the season that saw Giovanni Fiore score the game-winning goal with 2.8 seconds left in regulation Saturday night at Ontario after the Reign had tied the game at 2-2 with 25 seconds remaining in the game. The Gulls enter tonight’s contest having earned points in 15 of their last 16 road games (13-1-2-0) outside the state of California dating back to Oct. 29, 2016 (5-4 loss @ Manitoba). The Gulls lone regulation loss in the past 16 road games away from their home state came in their most recent trip on Nov. 22 at Tucson, a span of 389 days. Away from home, San Diego has earned standings points in 19 of the last 29 road games (17-10-2-0) and 25 of the final 34 contests away from home (21-10-2-1) dating back to last season.

Fiore earned his first career multi-goal game and third multi-point game (2-0=2) and now has three goals his past two game (3-1=4). Spencer Abbott recorded his team-leading 12th and 13th assists of the season, as the veteran forward leads the Gulls in scoring as well, as he enters tonight with a three-game point streak (1-3=4) dating back to Nov. 24 vs. Bakersfield. The point streak is his third of three or more games (four points, twice; last: Oct. 21-28 (2-4=6)).

In net, Reto Berra (2-2-0) has started the past three games for San Diego and has made 35 or more saves in each of his past two appearances.

The Predators and Admirals have partnered as affiliates since Nashville’s inception in 1998-99, the third longest active streak in the AHL. More than 175 players have played at least one game for both teams in the past 19 seasons. The Admirals have won five division titles in that time frame, including two conference championships and the Calder Cup in 2004. Milwaukee became the first team in AHL history to record 40 or more wins in 10 straight seasons and they have posted 90 or more points in 10 of the past 13 seasons, including six years when they have broken the 100-point plateau. In addition, Milwaukee has qualified for the Calder Cup Playoffs in 14 of the past 15 seasons. The Admirals have accumulated the second-most points in the AHL, behind only Hershey, since joining the league in 2001-02.

Offensively the Admirals are led by Swedish center Emil Pettersson who has earned 6-11=17 points in 20 games this season. His 11 assists co-lead the club while his 17 points pace the Predators affiliate. Former Gull Harry Zolnierczyk leads the Admirals with nine goals on the season while he ranks tied for second with 15 points this season. Anders Lindback (11-4-0) has received the yeoman’s work in net for Milwaukee having made 15 appearances this season and after he was reassigned to the Admirals yesterdays, he’s expected to get the start. Lindback has 130 games of NHL experience in seven NHL seasons with Nashville, Tampa Bay, Dallas, Buffalo and Arizona.

Milwaukee has constantly been noted as a prime development affiliate as many of Nashville’s core players spent time with the Admirals. Prominent roster mainstays for the Predators like Pekka Rinner, Filip Forsberg, Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis, Mattias Ekholm, Colin Wilson, Calle Jarnkork, Austin Watson, Colton Sissons, and Anthony Bitetto all spent time developing in Milwaukee before becoming full-time players in Nashville.

Like the Milwaukee-Nashville affiliation, the San Diego-Anaheim affiliate has been a strong pipeline the past three seasons that has seen young players flourish in the NHL early in their careers. Nine players currently on the Ducks roster have also appeared in a game with the Gulls. The eight skaters combined (Ondrej Kase, Mike Liambas, Brandon Montour, Nick Ritchie, Kevin Roy, Korbinian Holzer and Chris Wagner) have earned 21-28=49 points for the Ducks this season. The Gulls all-time leading scorer Brandon Montour, ranks tied for third among NHL defensemen in goals (6), and leads Anaheim defensemen in points (6-7=13), and ranks tied for second on the Ducks in goals.

With nine Anaheim Ducks draft selections on the current Gulls roster, and the history of development from Milwaukee to Nashville, tonight’s contest is sure to feature some NHL mainstays in the coming years.