PREVIEW: Gulls at HeatJan 9, 2019
The Gulls continue a four-game road trip and look to extend an AHL-best 11-game point streak as they visit the Stockton Heat at Stockton Arena (7:00 p.m., Radio: Mighty 1090). The Gulls have earned points in 11 straight games (9-0-0-2) dating back to Dec. 14, the longest current streak in the AHL. The point streak is tied for the second longest in club history and is one game short of the franchise record.
“We’ve had a good run of hockey here and we’re winning games in different ways," said Gulls head coach Dallas Eakins. "We’ve come out strong early in the season and couldn’t hang on to it. We’re still just in that whole process of implementing a plan that includes the full 60 minutes."
What they have gotten for 60 minutes each game lately has been strong goaltending. Kevin Boyle is riding a career high eight-game win streak dating to Dec. 15 where he has posted a 1.98 goals-against average and .931 save percentage during that span. That stretch has vaulted him into third among AHL leaders in wins (13) as his eight consecutive victories have run in conjunction with the team’s 11 straight.
The Gulls’ point streak is also tied for the second longest in the AHL this season (also Chicago) with Syracuse going 13 games without a regulation loss. San Diego has outscored opponents by a 17-goal margin overall (46-29) and by a 15-goal margin in the third period (23-8). In total, 34 different players have contributed to the point streak as 20 forwards, 11 defensemen and three goaltenders have appeared in at least one game during that span.
For Dallas Eakins, a win would mean more than just two standings points as the fourth-year Gulls head coach is just one victory from surpassing Kevin Dineen for the most wins by a head coach of an Anaheim Ducks primary affiliate. Eakins and the Gulls have a 135-82-11-8 record, good for 289 points in 236 games (.612%) dating to 2015. San Diego leads the Pacific Division in all-time wins and points since its inception in 2015.
A critical part of the Gulls’ recent success has been the team’s ability to win on the road. San Diego pushed its road win streak to four games, the longest active run in the AHL, with a 4-1 win over Ontario Saturday afternoon. Matt Berry, Sam Carrick, Max Jones, Sam Steel and Troy Terry each tallied two points in the win. With a goal and an assist, Terry took sole possession of first place in points and assists among rookies (15-20=35). His 35 points also move him into a tie for ninth place among all AHL skaters, while playing in the same or fewer games than everyone above him in the rankings. Kevin Boyle stopped 30 of 31 shots for his career-high eighth straight win.
“I think that’s where you earn your stripes, on the road,” said Eakins. “We’re fortunate here with our fans that they always seem like they’re an extra skater out there for us. When you go on the road, you’re in a very different environment. We look forward to this road trip for some time to get out there and see if we can keep our game going on the road.”
Since the victory, the Anaheim Ducks announced roster moves that could alter the Gulls lineup heading into their matchup with the Heat. The Ducks recalled forward Ben Street and defenseman Jake Dotchin to the NHL roster. In addition, the Gulls recalled forward Jared Thomas from the Tulsa Oilers of the ECHL and released Johno May from his professional tryout (PTO). Thomas has scored 9-13=22 points with a +10 rating in 22 games with Tulsa this season. The 24-year-old winger spent four seasons at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, helping the Bulldogs to the 2018 NCAA National Championship.
San Diego heads to Stockton for its first meeting with their division rival since Nov. 25, a 6-3 road win for the Gulls. Sam Carrick powered the Gulls offense with a career night, recording his first career hat trick while adding two assists and a +4 rating. The Gulls raced out to an early four-goal lead before holding off the Heat’s comeback attempt. Kevin Boyle made 41 saves in the victory.
Stockton (15-16-3-0) enters play sitting sixth in the Pacific Division, five points behind San Diego despite playing two more games thus far. The Heat boast a potent offense as their 120 goals this season lead the division. However, Stockton has had a hard time keeping the puck out of their own net as no AHL team has surrendered more goals than the 138 tallies the Heat have allowed. The Heat have allowed at least five goals in four of their last five games, conceding 26 times over that span. Two former NHL first round picks, Kerby Rychel and Curtis Lazar, lead the Stockton offense as the two have combined for 57 points in 65 games this season.