Preview: Gulls at Roadrunners

Nov 7, 2018

After a five-game point streak was ended four nights ago, the Gulls (3-3-1-1) look to bounce back against the Tucson Roadrunners as they conclude a brief two-game road trip tonight at Tucson Convention Center (6:05 p.m., ESPN 1700). It’s the fourth meeting in the past 31 days, and the Gulls have struggled against the Roadrunners of late, falling in each of the three games to end last season, and beginning the eight-game 2018-19 season series with two regulations losses and an overtime setback.

Despite the recent stretch of games and a six-game losing streak at the hands of the Roadrunners (0-5-1-0), San Diego holds a 15-11-0-1 record all-time vs. the Roadrunners, including an 8-6-0-0 mark on the road.

The last time these teams met on Oct. 27, the Roadrunners owned the worst penalty kill in the AHL at 66.7 percent (16-for-24). Although they have improved that number to 71.1 percent (32-for-45), they still rank 31st for a league worst penalty kill. On the other side, San Diego’s power play continues to remain among the league’s best, ranking fourth at 26.5 percent (9-for-34) and scoring on the man advantage in all but one of their eight games to date. During their last meeting, Tucson played a disciplined game and only gave San Diego three power-play chances, but still allowed a power-play goal courtesy of Kalle Kossila.

“We’ve played each other a lot early,” said Gulls head coach Dallas Eakins on the rivalry following the matchup only 11 days ago. “Obviously there’s lots of competition and no love lost between the two teams and some players. So it was a very physical night.”

The Gulls are coming off a 4-2 setback to the Ontario Reign that ended their five-game point streak (3-0-1-1) from Oct. 13-27, which included an overtime loss to the Roadrunners. Although it resulted in their first regulation loss since October 12, it was a noteworthy night for Gulls’ rookies. 

Former first-round draft selection (30th overall in 2016) Sam Steel made his San Diego debut after appearing in 13 games for Anaheim. Fellow rookies, Max Jones and Josh Mahura, each collected their first regular-season AHL goals. In addition to these milestones, Troy Terry recorded an assist to tie a club record for consecutive games with a point to begin a career and set the club record for consecutive games with an assist to begin a career.

“I thought they were good. I thought that was Jonesy’s (Max Jones) best game,” said Eakins following the Nov. 3 game at Ontario. “Sam (Steel) is just getting his feet wet today in this league and I thought he did some great things.”

“Usually when you have three players like that together with that amount of experience, you’re sometimes holding your breath. Not at all tonight. We had full confidence in them. We had them out there late with the goalie out. Overall a really good game by those three.”

The Roadrunners enter tonight’s contest sitting third in the Pacific Division after suffering back-to-back losses at the Colorado Eagles, 3-2 and 5-1 defeats over the weekend. 

On Nov. 5, Tucson announced defenseman Dakota Mermis will serve as the club’s new team captain, becoming the third captain in the franchise’s history. Roadrunners head coach Jay Varady also named Mario Kempe as a full-time alternate captain, while Robbie Russo and Laurent Dauphin will split duties as the team’s second alternate captain. But only 24 hours later, their captain was recalled by Arizona and is now with the NHL club. 

Like Tucson, the Gulls have had roster fluctuation of late, with Sam Carrick recalled by Anaheim on Sunday and appearing in his first game as a Duck later that evening. Chase De Leo was the latest to be recalled by Anaheim yesterday. San Diego made a corresponding roster move, recalling center Tyler Soy from Tulsa of the ECHL yesterday. 

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