PREVIEW: Gulls at MooseMar 17, 2019
The Gulls hit the midway point of a three-game road trip today when they visit Canada for only the second time in four years to open a two-game set against the Manitoba Moose at Bell MTS Place (12 p.m. PT, Radio: Mighty 1090). Today marks the final of six day games for the Gulls this season, all on the road, where the club is 3-1-0-1 this season (12-7-0-2 all-time).
The two-game trip to Manitoba marks the final two contests against Central Division opponents this season where San Diego is 7-2-0-1 to date. All-time, the Gulls are 25-8-3-0 against the Central, including an 8-7-2-0 road record (2-1-1-0 this season).
Last Wednesday the Gulls ended a three-game skid with a 5-4 overtime win over the Bakersfield Condors to begin the three-game trip. Sam Steel scored the overtime winner 1:58 into the extra session as he tied a career high with four points (1G/3A) and set a new personal best with three assists. Kevin Boyle set a new Gulls record as the 25-year old goaltender won his 20th game of the season to surpass the 19 wins last season. Steel is now just one goal from tying the club rookie record for goals (19) set by former Gull Giovanni Fiore just last season as the Ducks first-round selection in 2016 (30th overall) has amassed 18 goals and 20 assists this season to rank second in goals and fourth in scoring for San Diego this season.
The Gulls killed all six Condors power play opportunities Wednesday to push their season-high mark to 24 consecutive penalties killed dating to the first period on Mar. 1 at Stockton, a span of six games (19 periods without allowing a PPG dating to Feb. 23 vs. SA). The streak marks the third longest in club history and is two successful penalty kills shy of tying the club record of 26 straight from Dec. 5-27, 2015 spanning seven games (five full games).
These teams have met on six previous occasions with San Diego holding a 3-2-1-0 edge to date. The clubs split two contests at Pechanga Arena San Diego on Nov. 28 and 30, a 5-1 Manitoba win and 2-1 Gulls victory respectively. San Diego also won a pair of home games two seasons ago, while in the only other games San Diego has played outside of the U.S., Manitoba took a back-to-back matchup on Oct. 28-29, 2016 with an overtime win followed by a one-goal victory.
Of note, the Gulls three goal scorers against the Moose earlier this season (Max Jones, Luke Schenn and Joe Blandisi) are each no longer on the Gulls roster, with the latter two having been traded on the same night in separate moves Jan. 16. Only Alex Dostie and Ben Thomson (assists) have picked up points against Manitoba this season among active Gulls.
Today will mark the first return to Winnipeg for Gulls forward Chase De Leo where his career began four seasons ago. The 23-year old currently leads San Diego in assists (27) and ranks second in scoring 17-27=44, began his professional career in the Winnipeg Jets organization.
Acquired this past offseason on June 30 in exchange for another Southern California native in Nic Kerdiles, De Leo made his NHL debut for the Winnipeg Jets against the Anaheim Ducks in 2016 as part of his lone two career NHL games with the Jets. He scored 107 points (45G/62A) in 211 career AHL games with Manitoba from 2015-18 while he also led the Moose in postseason scoring and assists a year ago with eight points (2G/6A).
De Leo has had a career year with the Gulls to date, setting new career highs in points and assists, while he is only two goals shy of matching his 19-goal output from his rookie season with Manitoba in 2015-16. The Southern California native of La Mirada has picked up 17 points (8G/9A) his last 17 games with a +13 rating bolstered by a two-assist effort against Bakersfield five nights ago.
Manitoba (30-26-4-2) is currently in a five-way battle for the last playoff spot in the Central Division while they sit three points behind fourth-place Texas following a 5-4 overtime loss Friday night on home ice to the Texas Stars. The Moose have collected points in four straight games in addition to six of their last seven games overall following Friday’s overtime loss in which they battled back from a 4-1 third period deficit to earn a valuable point. With a 21-9-1-1 home record, the Moose sit in the top-10 among AHL teams in that department, but have struggled on the road with a 9-17-3-1 mark away from home.
In net, Eric Comrie (22-15-4), a Jets second-round pick in 2013 (59th overall) has posted a 2.74 goals-against average (GAA) and a .916 save percentage (SV%) in 43 games while starting the bulk of the Moose’s games. Mikhail Berdin (7-5-2), a rookie netminder out of Ufa, Russia has appeared in 14 games to date, posting a 2.27 GAA and .932 SV% to date.
Forward Seth Griffith leads the Moose in points and assists (12-33=45) as the sixth-year veteran recently played in his 300th AHL game and is nearly at a point-per game over his AHL career with 288 points (93G/195A) in 304 games. In his first game against San Diego this season, he picked up three assists, all on the power play. Former Gulls forward Logan Shaw is second among Manitoba skaters with 36 points (22G/14A) in 49 games with the club and has combined for 41 points this season after collecting five points in seven games with San Diego. In the first meeting between these teams on Nov. 28 in San Diego, Shaw scored his first of two hat tricks this season (3-0=3).