Gulls Camp: Introduction of Day OneSep 23, 2019
With the Anaheim Ducks 2019 training camp coming to a close, another opens. Head coach Kevin Dineen and the San Diego Gulls began their own training camp today at Great Park Ice in Irvine, Calif. Dineen is taking the reins behind the San Diego bench for the first time this season as just the second head coach in Gulls history. After helping coach the Anaheim Ducks training camp with Dallas Eakins last week, Dineen has the opportunity to take control and familiarize himself with the Gulls current roster.
“We’re evaluating some skill sets, looking for what guys can bring to us as a team,” said Dineen. “It’s nice, we have a few new faces out there today and obviously the team is still in a little bit of a flux here for another week, but that’s not the worst thing. Guys can come out here and get a chance to shine.”
“It’s amazing, we hit the ice today and now we’re two days away from our first exhibition game on Thursday morning (at Ontario). Things happen pretty quickly and it’s always good to see guys try to make that first impression.”
The Gulls invited six players to training camp on a professional tryout (PTO), including forwards Johno May, Alex Rodriguez and Henrik Samuelsson, and defensemen Dawson Davidson, Eric Drapluk and Conor Riley. Samuelsson, a first-round selection (27th overall) by Arizona of the 2012 NHL Draft is one of the several players on a tryout trying to impress the coaches and show that he belongs. Samuelsson’s father Ulf Samuelsson, a former defenseman with 1,080 NHL games under his belt, coached with Dineen during his tenure with the Chicago Blackhawks from 2017-18. At 25-years-old and with 201 games of AHL experience, Samuelsson has spent significant time in the AHL and has produced, totaling 34-40=74 points with 172 penalty minutes (PIM). Last season, Samuelsson split time between the Rockford IceHogs of the AHL (40 games) and the Idaho Steelheads of the ECHL (25 games).
Fellow tryous in right wingers Johno May and Alex Rodriguez also joined camp with hopes of impressing coaches and teammates. May played with the Gulls in one game last season after signing a PTO Jan. 1, 2019. The 6-3, 210 pound forward has appeared in 59 career ECHL games with the Swamp Rabbits, collecting 21-27=48 points with 38 PIM. Rodriguez made his first professional appearance last season after concluding his fourth year of collegiate hockey. The Miami, Fla. native totaled 5-5=10 points in just 11 games upon joining the Norfolk Admirals last season and should look to build upon that success with a productive showing in training camp.
San Diego also has three PTOs on the blue line with Dawson Davidson, Eric Drapluk and Conor Riley. Dawson, who capped off his final season in the WHL by recording 13-62=75 points with the Saskatoon Blades, joins his first AHL training camp with the Gulls. Drapluk has been with the Tulsa Oilers of the ECHL for four consecutive seasons and has totaled 21-63=83 points over 219 games played. Another ECHL veteran, Riley, earned his first appearance in the AHL last season with both the Binghamton Devils and Providence Bruins, scoring one goal in five combined games with the two clubs.
“For the most part, we’ll just let them go out there and get a little feel for the ice and their teammates,” added Dineen. “There’s a lot going on, when somebody comes to a new organization, there’s just so much new things that are happening. You want them to just be able to concentrate, go out there and play, not be handicapped or overcoached. It’s early, but for us, it’s all an exciting time.”
In his first pro season, Antoine Morand was assigned by the Anaheim Ducks to the Gulls today. The Ducks' second-round draft selection (60th overall) of the 2017 NHL Draft joins alongside many other high draft picks in the organization. Morand finished his final season in juniors as captain of the Halifax Mooseheads, the same team that fellow Ducks prospect Benoit-Olivier Groulx spent last season with. As one of the youngest players in the Gulls training camp at 20-years-old, Morand is all ears when it comes to learning about life in professional hockey.
“Every chance, you have to learn,” said Antoine Morand. “The coaches have been giving us advice. They’re there for us and the communications are great between the players and coaches. I’m like a sponge right now just trying to absorb everything that they say to me. It’s been good so far and I want to keep going that way.”
Entering his third season in the organization, forward Alex Dostie has been through his fair share of Ducks and Gulls camps, but for the first time he's entering a camp with San Diego boasting a new face holding the whistle in new head coach Kevin Dineen.
"I feel good. I think we have a good group this year," said Dostie after the 60-minute on-ice session. "Just to get things going with the Gulls, a new coach Kevin (Dineen), trying to figure out the new system...it's good. It's only the first day but we have a lot of teaching. I think the style of Kevin looks a lot like Dallas last year. I think we'll be used to it and we'll just get things going."
The similarities in coaching styles, communication and a style of play that is up-tempo, defensive minded and a workmanlike team echoes around Great Park Ice with the Ducks camp having started over a week ago. Eakins and Dineen are creating symmetry within the organization that resonates here in San Diego.
"I think it's easier for the guys," added Dostie. "You know what you learn from the Gulls you can use it with the Ducks. It's just easier for everybody."