Gulls Head to Ontario to Begin Back-To-Back Weekend SetNov 15, 2019
On the heels of a record night on home ice that saw nine goals and a Sam Carrick hat trick, the Gulls open the first of a back-to-back matchup against the Ontario Reign tonight at Toyota Arena (7 p.m., TV: AHL TV, Radio: San Diego Gulls Audio Network). Tonight will mark the first contest between the two clubs since Oct. 26, and San Diego has posted a 5-1-0-0 their last six games to climb out of the cellar of the Pacific Division standings.
Through their first six games, San Diego had scored 10 goals. Their last six games have seen the Gulls net 30 in that span. The change came thanks to a stronger defensive structure, special teams taking control and players settling into their roles.
“Every team goes through a little adversity and for us it just happened to come early on in the season,” said Carrick. “Our guys did a good job of staying positive. We knew the wins were going to start coming and now that they have, we are a confident group. We want to keep it rolling, but we are taking it one game at a time and not looking too far ahead.”
In six November games, the Gulls power play has scored five goals on 22 of their opportunities (22.7%), while the penalty kill has limited opposing teams to three goals on 23 chances (87.0%). In that span, the penalty kill has also logged five shorthanded goals to outscore the opposition power play 5-3, tied for the AHL lead with the Cleveland Monsters and the Rockford IceHogs. Conversely, the Gulls are one of just three teams to have not allowed a shorthanded goal on the season (also Rockford and Laval).
“For me, I’m not about scoring goals on the penalty kill. There’s a priority out there to keep them out of your net,” said head coach Kevin Dineen. “The way we have produced on our penalty kill makes us a tougher scout. It makes the (opposing) power play a bit more tentative and cautious with the puck.”
The Gulls offense is averaging five goals-per game over their last six contests. After Wednesday’s offensive explosion over San Jose, San Diego’s goals per game jumped from 20th (2.82) to sixth (3.33) in the AHL. The nine goals are the most by an AHL club this season.
Carrick posted the first Gulls hat trick at home in club history in his performance against the Barracuda, and is now riding a four-game point streak (6-1=7), while leading the club in scoring (7-5=12) and goals. Carric has also scored three game-winning goals the last four games dating to last Friday at Bakersfield, co-leading the league in that category. Forward Alex Broadhurst pushed his point streak to three games (2-1=3) following his third goal of the season, his first at even strength after scoring two shorthanded goals this month.
Forward Kiefer Sherwood scored a goal and dished out an assist, while registering a career high +3 rating, in the 9-3 win. Sherwood leads San Diego with seven assists and ranks second in points (4-7=11) after collecting 2-5=7 points in his last six games. Goaltender Anthony Stolarz (5-4-0-0) has racked up a career-tying five consecutive victories after Wednesday’s victory.
The Reign enter tonight third in the Pacific Division with 18 points, but only boast a +2 goal differential through 14 games, outscoring opponents 39-37. Ontario has had success away from home this season, earning a 6-2-0-0 record after eight road contests. The Reign have been idle the past six days after splitting a road back-to-back matchup against the Iowa Wild Nov. 9-10, picking up a 3-2 win the first night followed by a 3-0 shutout loss the following evening. Currently, the Reign are in the midst of playing seven of eight games away from home from Nov. 5-23 with their lone home contest taking place tonight.
Ontario defenseman Austin Strand is tied for third on the Reign in goals (3), which includes two goals in a third period comeback against the Iowa Wild on Saturday. The Reign entered the period trailing 2-1 before Strand potted a goal early in the frame to tie the game. He scored again with 2:32 left in regulation to take a 3-2 lead, which secured the win for Ontario.
Reign goaltender Cal Petersen has been a workhorse for his club this season, starting each of the team’s 14 games and posting an 8-4-2 record with a 2.46 GAA and a .932 SV%. Petersen leads AHL goalies in minutes (827:40), wins (8) and saves (466). The netminder has two shutouts on the season, tied for second in the AHL, including a 41-save effort against San Jose and a 23-save outing against Colorado. Petersen allowed four goals on 67 shot attempts (.940 SV%) in two games against the Gulls this year.
Ontario is led in scoring by Martin Frk (7-4=11) through their first 14 contests, with the Czech Republic native picking up two goals in his most recent contest Nov. 6 at Colorado in addition to a three-point game Oct. 25 vs. the Gulls (1G/2A).