Gulls Looking to Keep Reign out of the ForecastDec 27, 2019
Fresh off the AHL’s holiday break, the Gulls open a home-and-home matchup against the Ontario Reign tonight at Toyota Arena (7 p.m. PT, TV: AHLTV, Radio: San Diego Gulls Audio Network). San Diego will look to build on its momentum over the past several weeks, having earned points in four of the last six games overall (2-2-1-1) in addition to 13 of their last 19 games (11-6-1-1, 24 pts.).
“There’s nothing like a sense of urgency,” said Gulls head coach Kevin Dineen regarding the importance of the next several games. “We have a big game and couple of big games coming up here and we know what our situation is and feel that our push has to come now. It’s not the true half-point of the season, but we feel that after that Christmas break is when you get a chance to regroup, get out on the ice and get ready to go.”
Offensive production has been crucial for San Diego’s success this season. The club has 68 goals the last 19 games (3.6 goals-per game) in addition to 50 the last 15 games (excluding shootout goals). The Gulls are undefeated (9-0-0-0) in games they have scored at least four goals.
Last night the club signed center Brett Pollock and right wing Kyle Thomas to professional tryouts (PTO). Pollock rejoins San Diego from the Allen Americans of the ECHL, having recorded 9-19=28 points and 22 penalty minutes (PIM) in 30 ECHL games this season. Prior to signing his second PTO with the Gulls over the past week, the 23-year old center made an immediate impact with two assists and a +1 rating in his AHL season debut with the Gulls, Dec. 21 against his former team in Stockton.
“It felt nice. You always want to come in, contribute, build off that and keep it going,” said Pollock. “I think our line did a good job with that in my first game. The guys made it easy. They all welcomed me with open arms. There was a lot of communication and the coaches were great too so it made it pretty easy on myself.”
Thomas began the season with the Worcester Railers of the ECHL, recording 7-9=16 points with a +1 rating and 54 PIM in 27 games. The 6-0, 192-pound forward has recorded 3-3=6 points and six PIM in 25 career AHL games with the Utica Comets, Gulls and Cleveland Monsters, including a goal and assist in seven games with the Gulls in the 2017-18 season. The two new faces will look to make an impact tonight as the pair skated on a fourth line with Patrick Sieloff in yesterday’s practice.
This is the sixth meeting between the two Southern California rivals, hitting the midway point of a 12-game season series in 2019-20. It’s also the fourth matchup at Toyota Arena. San Diego has won two of the last three meetings between the clubs, including back-to-back victories Nov. 15 (6-2) and Nov. 16 (5-1). However, Ontario paces the seasons series with three wins through the first five matchups, the latest coming by way of a 2-1 comeback win Nov. 29 at Toyota Arena. Chris Wideman leads San Diego in scoring with seven points and four goals vs. Ontario this season. All-time, the Gulls have earned a 31-19-1-2 record vs. the Reign, including a 16-9-0-2 mark at Ontario (15-11-1-0 at home).
“They play a simple game. They try to play really physical, try to get into our heads and bring pucks to the net,” said defenseman Simon Benoit. “They not really difficult to play against, they’re just hard. They compete hard and that’s pretty much their game plan.
Ontario currently ranks fourth in the Pacific Division standings, collecting 30 points in 30 games with a 13-13-3-1 record. The Reign gained standings points in six of their first seven games of December (4-1-1-1), but then dropped two consecutive contests, failing to pick up a point in a back-to-back at Tucson where they were outscored 14-3 prior to the holiday break with 8-0 and 6-3 losses to the Roadrunners.
Martin Frk leads Ontario in scoring with 14 goals and nine assists this season. The right wing posted a season-high six-game point streak from Dec. 4-15, notching nine points (4-5=9). In his first three appearance against the Gulls this season, Frk has scored two goals and added two assists, including two game-winning goals. Defenseman Kale Clague ranks second among all Reign players and leads club blueliners in scoring with 6-9=15 points, while he recently recorded the third three-point game of his career, Dec. 7 at San Jose (1-2=3).