PREVIEW: Gulls at CondorsDec 14, 2018
The Gulls look to end a four-game skid tonight at Rabobank Arena as they conclude a three-game road trip tonight against the Bakersfield Condors (7 p.m., Radio: Mighty 1090).
Coming off back-to-back defeats at Colorado last weekend, San Diego (8-11-1-1) visits Bakersfield (11-10-0-0) for the first time this season and the third of an eight-game season series. It may be just what the team needs in facing a team the Gulls have won both of the previous matchups head to head this season, a 4-1 win on Nov. 16 and a 5-4 victory on Oct. 20, both on home ice. The Gulls are 16-13-1-0 in 30 all-time matchups against the Condors, including 7-6-1-0 at Rabobank Arena.
Tonight’s contest begins the fifth set of back-to-back matchups this season, where the Gulls are 4-3-1-1 overall and 1-2-0-1 in the first contest. The team will travel back to San Diego and face the San Jose Barracuda Saturday evening at Pechanga Arena San Diego.
“We really want to build off that competiveness we had in Colorado. We want to keep those chances that we had and be ready to bury them,” said Gulls head coach Dallas Eakins. “Overall, we’ve been much better keeping the chances against down. That has to be our mindset going into this weekend.”
Recently acquired right wing Adam Cracknell is expected to play in his first game for San Diego, his 499th career AHL game. Following the trade which saw Steven Oleksy join the Toronto Maple Leafs organization, the Gulls gain a forward who scored 51 points (29G/22A) in 69 games with Laval and Hartford last season, in addition to five NHL contests with the New York Ranges and Dallas Stars.
“He brings what we value. We want guys that are leaders in our community, charitable people, kind people off the ice, but we want them with a level of hardness,” said Eakins of Cracknell. “What he brings is experience. He can certainly shoot the puck, he’s played at all levels and he’s a completive man.”
Cracknell scored 3-7=10 points with 10 PIM in 14 games with the Toronto Marlies prior to the trade just four days ago and brings 208 games of NHL experience as well.
“Just trying to get comfortable with my new surroundings, but he’s put me in a different role on the wing here and I just watched practice and learned from it. Once we get going here I’ll keep on going. The last couple years it’s been a lot at center. I like the wing, getting in on the forecheck and I like the responsibility of a winger. I’m looking forward to it and it should be a fun weekend.”
While Cracknell joins the Gulls for his first game tonight, right wing Matt Berry is new to the Gulls this season, but has some comfort in knowing this team. Berry, who joined the Gulls on a PTO on Dec. 7 prior to the first game at Colorado, spent 15 games with the Gulls in the inaugural 2015-16 season. It’s been a few years, but the forward looked comfortable in his two games last weekend and provided some energy and a physical presence required.
“I think we just have to focus on our team, ourselves here and worry about what we do best and go out there and do that so we can have the most possible success this weekend,” said Berry following yesterday’s practice.
Bakersfield currently sit fifth in the Pacific Division and only four points ahead of the Gulls in the standings. Two of the Condors’ three leading scorers are rookies, with Tyler Benson (3G/13A) and Cameron Hebit (9G/6A) rank second and tied third respectively. Hebit co-leads the club in goals while Benson leads them in assists.
Veteran goaltender Al Montoya and rookie Shane Starrett have shared the load this season between the pipes. Starrett has posted a 5-2-0 record with a 2.92 goals-against average and .900 save percentage (SV%) with one shutout in 10 appearances, while Montoya has a 5-6-0 record with a 3.09 GAA and .879 SV% in his 11 contests.
Over the last week with the current injury situation in Anaheim with first Rickard Rakell (ankle) and Ryan Miller (knee) being moved to IR, there has obviously been more movement up and down between the two clubs. On Monday defenseman Andrej Sustr and goaltender Jared Coreau were recalled, while defensemen Josh Mahura and Andy Welinski rejoined the Gulls. Later Monday, Cracknell was acquired, and the Gulls also made a trade for goaltender Jeff Glass for future considerations.
The next morning as a precaution, Angus Redmond was recalled from Reading of the ECHL. Prior to their 6-3 comeback win over Dallas on Wednesday, the Ducks recalled Mahura and reassigned Coreau after the club had claimed veteran goaltender Chad Johnson off waivers Tuesday. After Coreau was sent bac