Gulls Host Barracuda in Thanksgiving Eve MatchupNov 27, 2019
The Gulls conclude a three-game homestand tonight and look for a bounce-back effort tonight against the San Jose Barracuda at Pechanga Arena San Diego (7 p.m., TV: FOX 5 San Diego, Radio: San Diego Gulls Audio Network). A strong November has seen the Gulls (7-8-0-0) reel off seven wins in nine games during the month, including wins in four of the five home contests.
Tonight will also begin a stretch of three games in four nights after a week off for the Gulls.
The Gulls enter tonight coming off a 4-1 loss to the Stockton Heat last Saturday that saw the well run dry after scoring 20 goals in the previous three games. After opening up the scoring in the end of the first period, a high-powered Stockton offense scored unanswered four goals in the second period to eliminate Jack Kopacka’s opener for San Diego.
“That’s not the way we wanted to play last Saturday, but we have three games this week and a chance to bounce back,” said Justin Kloos. “The way we’ve been successful all year is just moving our feet and executing at a high level. We’re a team with a lot of offensive upside and if we take care of business in our defensive zone, that offense is just going to happen without pressing the envelope.”
All-time, the Gulls own a 25-15-2-1 record against San Jose with a 14-5-1-1 record on home ice. San Diego has won back-to-back meetings between the clubs, a 9-3 win Nov. 13 on home ice and a 3-1 win Nov. 10 at SAP Center. In the most recent matchup, the Gulls’s nine goals set a club record for goals in a single game. In the record-setting win, Sam Carrick recorded the club’s first hat trick on home ice, San Diego netted two shorthanded goals and scored twice on the power play. Seven San Diego skaters recorded multi-point games, including a three-assist effort by defenseman Chris Wideman.
Carrick co-leads the Gulls with 8-6=14 points and recently posted a six-game point streak from Nov. 8-16 (7-2=9) until he was held scoreless in Saturday’s contest. He scored seven goals in five contests, including the three-goal performance against San Jose, and then collected an assist against Ontario to extend the point streak to six games. Despite not having recorded a point in the clubs’ first meeting this season, Carrick has four goals vs. San Jose this season to lead the club in scoring. Wideman leads the team with three assists in three games in the season series.
Kloos has been a major weapon for the Gulls this season, ranking third among all San Diego skaters with 3-8=11 points. In the Nov. 13 matchup against San Jose, Kloos tallied two goals, marking his first multi-goal game of the season. He also picked up a point in the 3-1 Nov. 10 victory with an assist to Blake Pietila’s goal. Two of the three goals Kloos has scored this season have come while the Gulls have been shorthanded, one of which was against the Barracuda, two weeks ago.
Anthony Stolarz was relieved in net Saturday by Kevin Boyle after the second intermission, but Stolarz will take the crease again in tonight’s matchup. The 6-6, 210-pound netminder recently posted a career-high seven-game winning streak that was put to an end in the setback against the Heat.
“[Stolarz] has the net tomorrow night, he’s had a nice little run, so we’re going to keep rolling with him right now,” said head coach Kevin Dineen. “He had a little area, where it was not a performance-based situation, that we took him out of the net our last game. We felt like I needed to give him a rest going into the third. It’s always nice to know that we have Kevin Boyle to step in as needed. He has been working hard in practice. That’s always a good thing for a coaching staff when you have to make decisions on who has the net.”
The Barracuda have hit rough waters on the road to begin the 2019-20 season, posting a 1-5-0-1 record in their first seven contests away from home. San Jose has been outscored 30-16 in those seven games. San Jose’s penalty kill currently 30th among the 31 teams in the league, and last in the Pacific Division with a 75.0% rate (54-for-72).
Rookie right wing Joachim Blichfeld leads San Jose with seven goals and ranks second in points (7-5=12). In 2018-19, Blichfeld recorded 53-61=114 points over 68 games in his third and final year with the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League (WHL). He took home the Bobby Clarke Trophy for the most points in the WHL and the Four Broncos Trophy as the player of the year.
Another prominent skater for San Jose is center Maxim Letunov who leads San Jose in scoring with 5-8=13 points through his first 16 games. He scored a power-play goal and recorded an assist in the first meeting between the clubs but remains scoreless against the Gulls since then. Letunov enters the game after extending his point streak to four games (1-6=7) on Saturday.
On Saturday, the Barracuda snapped a two-game skid in the final game of a four-game homestand as they upended the Colorado Eagles, 6-2. In the win, San Jose netted a season-high three power-play goals and six different skaters found the back of the net. In addition, Josef Korenar made a season-high 39 saves in the victory.
Korenar has appeared in the majority of the Barracuda’s games, going 5-5-1 in 11 games to date. He was in net Nov. 13 at Pechanga Arena San Diego, allowing all nine goals and enters tonight with a 3.08 goals-against average and .891 save percentage.