Preview: Gulls Reignite Rivalry with BarracudaOct 11, 2019
The Gulls continue a season-opening road trip tonight at San Jose for their second game of the season where they will face the San Jose Barracuda at the SAP Center (7 p.m. PT, AHL.TV, KOGO 600 AM). Tonight’s matchup continues the Gulls three-game road trip and marks the Barracuda’s home opener. The Gulls will look to spoil their homecoming and earn a win in the first of 12 total contests between the two clubs this season.
The Gulls own an all-time mark of 23-14-2-1 in games against the Barracuda, including 10-9-1-0 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 a First Round Calder Cup Playoffs series. San Diego won both road contests of the series, outscoring San Jose 9-4 at SAP Center.
“It was a good series last year during the playoffs,” said defenseman Patrick Sieloff. “They were a great team last year, then we came in and gave them a good series and came out on top. They have a lot of returning guys, and we have a really skilled team, so it will be a good matchup.”
The Gulls opened the 2019-20 regular season with a 2-1 loss to the Bakersfield Condors at Mechanics Bank Arena. Kiefer Sherwood scored San Diego’s first goal of the season and Daniel Sprong earned the lone assist, his first point as a Gull. In his San Diego debut, Anthony Stolarz stopped 26-of-28 shots in the setback. Six other Gulls made their San Diego debut, including Hunter Drew (professional debut), Jani Hakanpaa, Blake Pietila, Andrew Poturalski, Sprong and Chris Wideman. With a full week between games, Gulls players are ready to get back to action.
“We pushed hard in the last period and a half in our last game, but we came up short. I think we put a little extra importance on these games heading into the road,” said head coach Kevin Dineen. “The guys work hard all summer long- they train, they have personal trainers. On the ice, they’re working on their skill set, but when you get out there for the game, that’s what it’s all about. They’re all really excited to get going this weekend, as we all are.”
San Diego forward Chase De Leo will look to continue the success that he had last season against the Barracuda. De Leo recorded 4-6=10 points and a +7 rating over ten games against the California rival. In addition, the California native scored in each of the four postseason games against San Jose, including the game-winner in Game 3, tying the club mark for goals in a series. De Leo is three assists away from reaching 100 total AHL assists in the early stages of his fifth season.
San Jose opened their regular season schedule with a 5-0 shutout loss on the road at the Ontario Reign last Friday despite outshooting the Reign 41-32 in the contest. San Jose’s goaltender Josef Korenar struggled in his first start of the season allowing 5 goals on 32 shots (.844 save percentage). Korenar posted a 23-8-2 record with four shutouts, a 2.54 GAA and .911 SV% in 34 games last season.
Three of San Jose’s top scorers from 2018-19 return to the Barracuda lineup this season. Alexander True, who led San Jose in scoring with 24-31=55 points in 68 games slots in as their top-line center, in addition to defenseman Nick DeSimone who paced all Barracuda blueliners in scoring (14-32=46) while Jayden Halbgewachs earned 13-22=35 points. Two notable additions to the roster joined the club as professionals this season in Ivan Chekhovich, Sashsa Chmelevski, a native of Huntington Beach, Calif.
Following tonight’s game, the Gulls will conclude their three-game road trip with a matchup agianst Stockton tomorrow night, Saturday, Oct. 12 (6 p.m.) before returning home to San Diego for their home opener Friday, Oct. 18 at Pechanga Arena San Diego (7 p.m. PT).