BATTLE OF THE BIRDS

//BATTLE OF THE BIRDS

BATTLE OF THE BIRDS

The Gulls (20-17-1-0, 41 pts., .539 win %) play the penultimate contest before the league’s All-Star break and begin a back-to-back matchup against the Bakersfield Condors (17-15-7-0, 41 pts., .526 win %) this evening at Rabobank Arena (7 p.m., Mighty 1090-AM). San Diego, who has won seven of their last 10 road contests (7-3-0-0), has also won 13 of their last 19 games overall (13-6-0-0).

Despite 2-1 and 3-2 setbacks against the San Jose Barracuda last weekend at Valley View Casino Center, the Gulls have maintained a strong road record this season (10-7-0-0). The Gulls have wins in five of their last seven road games (5-2-0-0) in addition to earning standings points in 31 of their last 43 contests away from home (27-13-2-1, 55 pts.) dating back to last season. Still, the Gulls know they need to continue to improve if they are going to qualify for the playoffs in a tight division.

“We’re not happy with the last five (games),” defenseman Jaycob Megna said after practice this week. “They were games that we could have had, the four that we did lose. You have to build off of it and turn the page. We know what we can do in the room.”

Center Dennis Rasmussen enters tonight’s game riding a season-high three-game point streak (1G/2A) dating back to Jan. 17 at Tucson. Fellow center Kalle Kossila comes in with 17 points (3G/14A) in his last 15 games, right wing Corey Tropp has 17 points (9G/8A) in the last 16 contests and center Eric Fehr has scored nine goals his last 16 games.

Tonight’s game marks the second contest of an eight-game season series between the two clubs. Bakersfield won the lone previous matchup this season, a 4-1 win on Nov. 24 at Valley View Casino Center. San Diego is 12-9-0-0 all-time season series, including 5-5-0-0 on the road. In 2016-17, the Gulls posted a 3-1-0-0 record at Rabobank Arena, including a three-game win streak from Nov. 26, 2016-Feb. 17, 2017. Kossila leads all active Gulls skaters in points and assists (2-7=9) in 10 career games vs. Bakersfield.

Bakersfield enters tonight in eighth place in the Pacific Division despite have a win percentage over .500, showing the strength of the AHL’s toughest division. The Condors are led in scoring by right wing Ty Rattie. Rattie, a second round selection (32nd overall) of the St. Louis Blues in the 2011 NHL Draft has 30 points (16G/14A) in 40 games. The Gulls will likely see two of the three goaltenders on the Bakersfield roster: Nick Ellis, Eddie Pasquale, or Laurent Brossoit. Ellis was the star of the game against the Gulls back on Nov. 24 when he stopped 41-of-42 San Diego shots.

At this time of year, the Gulls know that every point is crucial.

 “Every night could be the difference when it comes down to it so we want to get all the points we can,” Megna said. “We just try to win one at a time.”

Left wing Nic Kerdiles believes his team is more than up to the task.

“I think we have got a hungry team,” he said. “It will be fun.”

2018-01-26T18:19:32+00:00