PREVIEW: Gulls at HeatNov 25, 2018
Tonight the Gulls look to exact revenge on the Stockton Heat as they visit Stockton Arena for the first time this season to conclude a home and home matchup (5:00 p.m., Radio: Mighty 1090).
Just two nights ago, Stockton (10-8-1-0) shocked San Diego (6-6-1-1) with a 6-5 win after Curtis Lazar scored a shorthanded goal with 12 seconds left in regulation, ending a season-long five-game homestand (3-2-0-0) on a sour note before a quick one-game trip north before returning home to close out the month on home ice.
Stockton battled back to tie the game on three separate occasions Friday night at Valley View Casino Center, erasing 1-0, 3-1 and 5-3 deficits to ultimately score three unanswered goals in the third period. It was the second straight game the Gulls dropped after holding leads in the third period, but tonight as an opportunity to right those wrongs as the club’s schedule picks up moving forward.
“I’m a big believer in playing a lot whether you have gone through an event like tonight to get right back at it or when you’re winning, it’s good to keep that rolling, too.,” said head coach Dallas Eakins. “I’m excited our schedule is going to pick up here.”
Despite a frustrating night, forwards Sam Steel and Corey Tropp each had two goals and an assist. The three-point effort for Steel marked his first professional multi-goal and multi-point game. He also registered a game-high and career-best seven shots on goal in a dominant game from the 2016 first round (30th overall) selection of the Anaheim Ducks. Tropp pushed his team lead in points to 6-11=17, and his next goal will mark his 50th with San Diego, a milestone no Gull has yet to reach. In addition, Troy Terry continued to produce as he collected an assist to push his club record and AHL-leading point streak to 11 games. Terry’s point streak is the longest in the AHL this season, and the longest by a rookie since Evgeny Svechnikov (Grand Rapids) recorded a 12-game point streak from Jan. 20-Feb. 17, 2017 (5-9=14).
It’s unfortunate, you have to find a way to close out those games,” said Tropp following Friday’s contest. “It’s a learning experience, but those are crucial points to give up two games in a row. We have to find a way to finish games out when we have a two-goal lead. We have to get the job done, we have the game plan. It’s no secret formula on what we have to do, we just have to execute.”
“It’s what we get paid to do. Play, execute to the best of our abilities and get the job done,” said Tropp following Friday’s contest. “It’s going to sink in here, we’ll have a day think about, make some adjustments and we’ll have another crack at it on Sunday.”
San Diego has played the fewest road games of any AHL team this season (4), but in the games they have played, special teams have been truly special. The Gulls road power play currently leads the AHL at 31.3 percent (5-of-16), while the road penalty kill ranks third among league leaders at 88.0 percent (22-of-25). The Gulls have scored a power-play goal in 12 of their 14 contests heading into tonight’s matchup and sits at fifth overall among league leaders (25.0 percent).
The Gulls are 12-14-3-3 in 22 all-time matchups against the Heat, including 3-9-1-2 when at Stockton Arena. Last night’s victory earned Stockton their second win of the eight-game season series after they edged out a 5-4, 14-round shootout win on Oct. 26. The teams will face off again in San Diego on Mar. 6 and Mar. 30. San Diego will visit Stockton Arena again on Jan. 9 followed by a back-to-back matchup Mar. 1-2.