PREVIEW: Gulls at HeatMar 1, 2019
Coming off a two-game homestand that saw San Diego score 10 goals and earn two wins, the Gulls head right back on the road. San Diego (29-16-3-3) visits the Stockton Heat (22-25-4-1) as the clubs meet tonight for the first of a back-to-back matchup at Stockton Arena and three consecutive games in six days. Over their four prior matchups this season, San Diego is 2-1-0-1, with consecutive wins Jan. 9 (7-4) and Nov. 25 (6-3) at Stockton Arena. The game also marks the first of three straight contests between the two clubs.
“It’s not the first time that it’s happened in this league, but it is kind of rare when it happens,” said defenseman Trevor Murphy regarding playing Stockton for three consecutive games. “You get a good look on them. The second and third game gets a little rougher and becomes a grind, but it should be good. We just have to play a structurally sound game. If we play in their end for most of the game, the ice tilts. We just have to stay really structured and let our skill take over.”
Recently, the Gulls have been showing off the skill that Murphy eluded to, gaining points in five of the last six games (4-1-1-0). In addition, San Diego has eight wins their last 12 games (8-3-1-0) and in 18 of their last 24 (18-5-2-0), while they’ve been one of the best road teams in the league dating to mid December with points in 15 of their last 18 road contests (11-3-2-2).
Their most recent contest for the Gulls saw a 5-4 win over the San Antonio Rampage with five different Gulls players scoring a goal for the second consecutive game. Sam Carrick scored his 27th of the season to extend his goal streak to four games, putting him among the top-three goal scorers in the league. His four-game goal streak (5-1=6) is now just one game shy of his career high set from Dec. 15-27 (6-2=8). Chase De Leo recorded an assist, setting a new single-season career high for points to surpass the 40 he scored as a rookie in 2015-16 with Manitoba. With the team rolling four lines and three defense pairs, it’s been a scoring-by-committee look the past few weeks, with the Gulls netting 20 goals their last four games.
“There’s four great lines that can play any night,” said Roy. “Whoever is up or down, everyone can play and everyone is chipping in, making this team win. We work hard every day and it shows when we get out there.”
A new face looking to make his debut tonight will be recently acquired defenseman Patrick Sieloff who joined the Gulls earlier in the week following an Anaheim Ducks trade with the Ottawa Senators in exchange for left wing Brian Gibbons.
“It’s been awesome so far. When I heard that I was coming out here, I couldn’t have been more happy,” said Sieloff, who picked up nine points in 45 games for the Belleville this season. “I know four-to-five guys on the team and they’ve helped me adapt tremendously. Just reaching out them on what to expect, how things run out here and just ease my way into it is a lot easier than just jumping into the fire.”
In net, Jeff Glass (10-7-2) looks to make his ninth straight start for the Gulls. The veteran netminder has been between the pipes dating to Feb. 8 following Kevin Boyle’s recall to Anaheim after a string of injuries to Anaheim’s goalie depth.
In addition to depth, San Diego has also boasted some star power. Sam Carrick has already reached new career highs in scoring (27-21=48) and goals this season, surpassing his previous high of 41 points set last season in 67 games. Carrick became the first Gull in club history to reach the 25-goal mark on Feb. 18 at San Jose, with his previous high of 16 goals coming in 2015-16 with Toronto in 52 games. Carrick had a career night on Nov. 25 at Stockton, scoring his first career natural hat trick and adding two assists to factor in five of the team’s six goals. His five points set a club record for most points in a single game (3G/2A).
Stockton has also found success recently, riding a three-game win streak and points in five of their last seven games (5-1-0-1). The Heat are looking to battle back into playoff contention with only 16 games remaining on their schedule and seven points behind fourth place Tucson in the Pacific Division. Center Alan Quine leads the Heat in scoring (18-29=47) and assists, while he has tallied three hat tricks this season, including Jan. 9 against the Gulls. Rookie center Dillon Dube has recorded 7-9=16 points over his previous 14 games and Kerby Rychel leads the club with 21 goals this season.
As it currently stands, San Diego and Stockton are the two highest goal scoring teams in the AHL. San Diego leads the league with 3.67 goals per game (187 goals over 51 games) and Stockton ranks second with 3.52 goals per game (183 goals over 52 games). Over the four games that these two teams have met, there have been a combined total of 40 goals scored, 22 for San Diego and 18 for Stockton. There has also been at least one power play goal for both teams in each of the four contests.