Gulls Look for Fourth Straight Win in San JoseNov 10, 2019
The Gulls continue a three-game road trip tonight at SAP Center for their second matchup of the season against the San Jose Barracuda (7 p.m., Radio: San Diego Gulls Audio Network). Tonight begins the fourth set of back-to-back matchups this season, where San Diego is 2-4-0-0 overall, including 1-2-0-0 in the first matchup (1-2-0-0 in the second). After a slow October schedule, the Gulls will experience a shift in momentum as they now face one of the busiest slate of games this season.
“(Eight games) in 35 days and now six in nine. That puts a pretty good explanation how important this series (of games) is,” said Gulls head coach Kevin Dineen. “Obviously that first six games didn’t go well for us so we spent a lot of time working through that. Now we just play the game. That’s what I think the players talk about and what we talk about. Let’s go out and play. This will be a key moment for us but for us.”
On Friday night, Nov. 10, the Gulls extended their win streak to three games with a 5-3 victory over the Bakersfield Condors at Mechanics Bank Arena. Sam Carrick scored the game-winning goal on a shorthanded breakaway at 18:11 of the second period and added an assist to mark his second multi-point effort of the season. Kiefer Sherwood also recorded 1-1=2 points and is now is riding a three-game point streak (1-3=4), leading San Diego in scoring (3-5=8). The Gulls will now matchup against a team on the other side of California as they head up to San Jose.
“It’s one game, obviously in the right direction, but we have a long way to go,” said Sherwood following the 5-3 win in Bakersfield. “We’re still well below what we would like to be, but it’s a process like everything else, so I think we took the first step tonight and hopefully it leads into Sunday and so forth.”
The Gulls own an all-time mark of 23-15-2-1 in games against the Barracuda, including 10-10-1-0 at SAP Center (13-5-1-1 at home). Last season, the Gulls posted a 6-4-0-0 record against the Barracuda with a 3-2-0-0 record both on the road and at home. The two clubs also met in the postseason when the Gulls eliminated the Barracuda in four games (3-1) in the First Round of the 2019 Calder Cup Playoffs. San Diego won both road contests of the series, outscoring San Jose 9-4 over the two games at SAP Center.
In their last meeting against San Jose, the Gulls suffered a 5-1 setback in their second game of the 2019-20 season. Rookie defenseman Hunter Dew scored his first professional goal and point on the power play while fellow first-year Gull Antoine Morand made his professional debut. Anthony Stolarz made 37 saves on 42 of San Jose’s shots, marking the highest totals for both shots against and saves this season. The Gulls scored a goal on the man-advantage, but also allowed two power-play goals on six chances.
“(Special teams) made a huge difference. We couldn’t generate anything on the power play,” said Gulls head coach Kevin Dineen following the Oct. 11 game in San Jose. “Early in the first period our game was fine and then we took a couple penalties, too many men and then a slashing penalty. Two unnecessary penalties. Those are the ones that end up biting you in the tail and they certainly did tonight.”
After their first few games, the Gulls put a heavy concentration on their power play and penalty kill in the following weeks. Special teams has become a big strength of the Gulls as of late as they continue to climb in the standings. San Diego has five goals on the man advantage in their last five games and has only allowed one power-play goal (16-17), while scoring two shorthanded in their last four games. The Gulls will look to build on their momentum and use their strong penalty kill and power play to extend their winning streak to five games against San Jose tonight.
The Barracuda are coming off their second-best campaign in club history, posting a 39-22-3-4 record for the second seed in the Pacific Division. San Jose has had a roller coaster start to the season, starting the season with a 5-0 shutout loss to Ontario and then rebounding with a 5-1 win in their following game against San Diego. The Barracuda have shown their ability to lock down other teams with back-to-back shutouts at Colorado (Oct. 26) and vs. Bakersfield (Oct. 30). San Jose enters tonight’s contest as the youngest team in the AHL with an average age of 22 years and 10 months, the only team with an average age under 23.
Joel Kellman has been a pleasant surprise for San Jose this season as one of their leading scorers this season. Joining the San Jose Sharks organization this offseason following five professional seasons in the Swedish Hockey League (SHL), Kellman posted a six-game point streak from Oct. 11-30 (1-7=8). His stretch of six games with at least one point marks the longest by a Barracuda skater to date in 2019-20. Undrafted rookie Lean Bergman has averaged over a point-per-game and has been one of the more impressive rookies in the AHL, posting eight points (3G/5A) through his first six games this season.
Goaltender Josef Korenar has picked up where he left off in his notable rookie campaign in 2018-19, with the 21-year-old Czech Republic native becoming the clear starter this season. He posted back-to-back shutouts Oct. 26 at Colorado and Oct. 30 vs. Bakersfield, stopping a combined 59 shots in his fifth and sixth career AHL shutouts.