PREVIEW: Gulls at MooseMar 19, 2019
Coming off a 4-1 victory two days ago the Gulls conclude a three-game road trip and four-game season series tonight at the Manitoba Moose at Bell MTS Place (5 p.m. PT, Radio: Mighty 1090). The Gulls enter tonight’s game with three straight road victories and back-to-back wins overall.
The matinee win Sunday kept San Diego (33-20-3-3) on pace with San Jose and Colorado who also have 70 points. The Barracuda sit second in the division based on one fewer played game than San Diego and three fewer than Colorado. The Gulls lead the three teams tied at 70 points with more regulation and overtime wins (AHL’s first tiebreaker if all teams are on equal games played) with 30, compared to San Jose’s 28 and Colorado’s 29.
Sunday afternoon the Gulls picked up their first ever win outside the U.S. in the win over the Moose. Defenseman Jake Dotchin, returning to the lineup after missing 19 games with an upper-body injury, scored two goals (one shorthanded) to mark his first career two-goal game as a professional. Ben Thomson and Kiefer Sherwood also netted goals and Kevin Boyle stopped 38-of-39 shots to mark his 50th career win and 21st of the 2018-19.
Boyle improved to 9-2-1 with a 2.51 goals-against average and .926 save percentage his last 13 road games and 16-4-1 his last 21 overall with the victory.
“When you have a guy behind that can make that crucial save at the right moments is huge,” said Gulls defenseman Andrej Sustr.
“As a defenseman you can take a few chances,” said Dotchin following Sunday’s win. “We’ve got a lot of faith in (Boyle) so it’s good to kind of good to be in the offensive zone, pucks coming around the boards, take that little pinch, you might not get it, but you trust that he’ll get the save. It’s definitely nice having him back there. We have a good group so I’m excited to see where we go with it.
San Diego’s penalty kill came up big with three kills during the game to set a new club record. The Gulls have killed a club record 27 consecutive penalties dating to Mar. 1 at Stockton, a span of seven complete games (22 periods without allowing a PPG dating to Feb. 23 vs. San Antonio).
“It’s that time of year where you have to risk everything and put your body on the line to win hockey games,” added Dotchin Sunday.
”We’re blocking more shots, winning faceoffs too, and those little things really add up. We’ve made a few tweaks system wise, but nothing major. It’s just the commitment to killing penalties,” added assistant coach Brett Ferguson.
The regulation loss for Manitoba marked only their second dating to Dec. 30 where they are now 15-2-1-1 on home ice. In three matchups this season, the Gulls have posted a 2-1-0-0 record with a 4-2-1-0 mark in seven all-time matchups between the clubs. Tonight also marks the conclusion of San Diego’s 2018-19 schedule against the Central Division where the Gulls are 8-2-1-0 to date. The Gulls are 26-8-3-0 all-time vs. the Central Division, including a 9-7-2-0 road record (3-1-1-0 this season).
Entering tonight, Manitoba (30-27-4-2) now sits seventh in the Central with 66 points, four points back of Rockford for the final playoff spot with 13 games remaining on their schedule. The Moose will wrap up a six-game homestand tonight where they currently have a 3-1-1-0 record to date before visiting Colorado for two meetings between the clubs.
Contributing an assist on their lone goal Sunday, defenseman Cameron Schilling has now recorded four points (1G/ 3A) his last four games and now co-leads Moose blueliners with 22 points (3G/19A)this season. Former Gull Ryan White scored the lone goal for Manitoba marking the fourth goal by a Moose player that previously donned a Gulls sweater (also Logan Shaw, three goals on Nov. 28).
The Winnipeg Jets organization has added a new face to the fold. On Sunday the Jets announced they have signed Johnathan Kovacevic, a third-round selection (74th overall) in 2017 to a two-year, entry-level contract starting in 2019-20. He will join the Moose on an amateur tryout. Kovacevic recorded 18 points (4G/14A) with Merrimack College this season and was named the Warriors’ MVP.