April 1, 2017
The Gulls (40-17-3-2, 85 pts.) set franchise records with their 40th win of the season and 85th point in a 4-1 victory over the Tucson Roadrunners (26-30-7-0; 59 pts.) at Tucson Arena on Saturday night. Escondido native Austin Ortega picked up his first career point in his professional debut, rookie Mitch Hults recorded his first two assists in his second career game, and goaltender Jhonas Enroth (14-3-0) made 30 saves to help San Diego’s improve to 12-3-1-0 the past 16 games.
San Diego has won a Pacific Division-high 79 games dating back to the start of last season, co-leads the division in win percentage (.650) with Ontario and ranks third among AHL teams in win percentage the past two season with a 79-40-7-4 record. The Gulls have also won six of the last eight games (6-2-0-0) and 16 of the last 21 games (16-4-1-0), while the club has earned standings points in 17 of the last 22 contests (16-5-1-0) and 33 of 39 contests since Dec. 26 (29-6-2-2). Additionally, the Gulls have earned standings points in 12 of the past 16 road games (12-3-1) and 18 of the last 21 road contests overall (16-3-1-1).
The Gulls also set a club record tonight for most wins and points in a season series, going 10-1-0-1 (21 points) against the Roadrunners, surpassing an 8-2-0-1 (18 points) mark set last season against San Jose.
Enroth continues to be outstanding as he has now posted a 12-2-0 mark with two shutouts, a 1.43 goals-against average (GAA) and .945 save percentage (SV%) in 14 games since joining the Gulls on Jan .10. The Swedish veteran leads all AHL goaltenders with a 1.71 GAA and .936 SV% this season (minimum 17 appearances).
Two California-natives teamed up to give the Gulls a 1-0 lead at 15:55 of the first period when Ortega stole the puck from a Tucson defenseman and fed Irvine native Nic Kerdiles who buried a one-timer past Roadrunners goaltender Adin Hill for his seventh goal of the season.
The Gulls doubled their lead at 1:09 of the second period when Ondrej Kase deflected Jeff Schultz’s drive past Hill, with Mitch Hults picking up the other assist for his first professional point. Kase has points in six of his last seven games (3-3=6) with san Diego and Schultz’s assist marked his 15th of the campaign tying a career high set last season with Ontario.
Tucson struck back just under two minutes later at 3:03 of the period on Conor Garland’s fourth goal of the season from a bad angle that slipped between Enroth’s arm and the near post. Spencer Abbott would push San Diego’s lead back to two goals at 10:54 of the frame when he took a pass from Sam Carrick and beat Hill over the shoulder and into the corner of the net with a quick-snipe wrist shot. Abbott tallied 2-3=5 points in the two games against Tucson this weekend and now has 3-8=11 points in 12 games since joining the Gulls on Mar. 1.
San Diego dominated a majority of the third period and extended their lead to three as Abbott struck again, this time accepting a cross-ice pass from Jaycob Megna in front of Hill and dekeing to his backhand for his 18th goal of the season.
Late in the game, Tucson generated numerous opportunities with a 5-on-3 man advantage, but could not cut into San Diego lead. .
The Gulls travel to Stockton next week to conclude their three-game road trip at the Heat on Wednesday, Apr. 5 (7 p.m.) San Diego will return home on Friday, Apr. 7 to take on the Ontario Reign at Valley View Casino Center (7 p.m.) as the Gulls will celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Anaheim Ducks 2007 Stanley Cup Championship. A limited number of tickets are available by visiting AXS.com/Gulls or by phone at (619) 359-4730.
NOTES: Kalle Kossila notched his 33rd assist and has 3-8=11 points in his last 15 games…Andy Welinski contributed an assist, his fifth point of the weekend (3-2=5) and co-leads active San Diego defenseman with 23 on the year…Jaycob Megna also added an assist and has 0-3=3 points in his last four games…the Gulls improved to 21-14-2-1 in back-to-back games and 9-9-1-0 in the second match-up…Tucson goaltender Adin Hill (14-14-6) stopped 37-of-41 shots in his 14th loss of the season.
1. Spencer Abbott (SD)
2. Mitch Hults (SD)
3. Conor Garland (TUC)