Preview: Gulls host CondorsNov 16, 2018
Winners of back-to-back games last weekend and riding a six-game home point streak, the San Diego Gulls (5-4-1-1,1 12 pts.) host the Bakersfield Condors (7-4-0-0, 14 pts.) tonight at Valley View Casino Center (7 p.m., Mighty 1090-AM). Tonight, the Gulls are hosting Willie O’Ree Night in honor of O’Ree’s induction to the Hockey Hall of Fame just four days ago on Monday, Nov. 12 in Toronto. [More info at the end of this story].
San Diego enters tonight on the heels of 4-3 and 3-2 wins over the Colorado Eagles last weekend, pushing their home point streak to six games (4-0-1-1, 10 points) dating to Oct. 19. Chase De Leo scored the game-winning goal last Friday and three rookies tallied goals on Saturday night, including Max Comtois, Max Jones and Troy Terry. The current streak on home ice also started with the arrival of Terry on Oct. 19.
Beginning that night, Terry has recorded points all eight games to begin his AHL career (5-6=11), a club record eight-game point streak to start a career with San Diego. Terry’s eight-game point streak is the longest point streak by an AHL rookie this season. Terry is one game shy of tying Rochester’s defenseman Zach Redmond and Utica’s winger Reid Boucher (both nine games) for the longest point streak in the AHL this season. If he reaches nine games with a point, it would match Corey Tropp’s club record nine-game point streak set from Dec. 9, 2017-Jan. 3, 2018 (8-6=14) and surpass Kalle Kossila’s rookie record eight-game point streak. Terry also has points in all six home games since his AHL debut on Oct. 19 (5-4=9), tied for the longest home streak in the AHL this season with three others.
“When I was up [in Anaheim], I was trying to get points and pushing for it, and I think that’s when I started to struggle,” said Terry. “I tried to do things on my own and I would get frustrated. I was fortunate to have that good first weekend here, get a clear mind and not have to worry about points. It’s never my concern and it’s nice to just go out, do what I can to win hockey games and not have any pressure to produce. That’s when I do the best and I typically produce the most.”
Another promising young Ducks prospect may make his debut for San Diego in center Isac Lundestrom. Drafted 23rd overall by Anaheim in this year’s 2018 NHL Draft, Lundestrom began the 2018-19 season with the Ducks, collecting 0-2=2 points in 15 games. If he does make his debut tonight, the 19-year old forward would become the third-youngest Gull to appear in a game at 19 years and 10 days (Deven Sideroff appeared in a game on Apr. 16, 2016 vs. Ontario at 19 years and 3 days, while Jacob Larsson appeared in Game 2 of the Pacific Division Final vs. Ontario at 19 years and 9 days).
For the first time in the club’s four-year history, San Diego currently has three Anaheim Ducks first-round draft selections. In addition to Lundestrom, Max Jones (24th overall in 2016) and Sam Steel (30th overall in 2016) were also first rounders.
Bakersfield visits America’s Finest City for the second time this season as part of an eight-game season series. San Diego won the single previous matchup on Oct. 20, a 5-4 win on home ice to improve to 15-13-1-0 in 29 all-time matchups, including 9-6-0-0 on home ice. Corey Tropp paces all active Gulls players in points (6-6=12) and goals in 18 career games against the Condors.
“They’re really good in the offensive zone, they don’t hold on to the puck very long,” said Gulls captain Jaycob Megna. “We have to make sure we close quickly and communicate. They like to give-and-go quite a bit and they come with a lot of speed through the neutral zone. We need to try to take away their time and space to make things hard on them.”
The Condors enter tonight with four consecutive victories, all one-goal wins dating to Nov. 3. Rookie forward Cameron Hebig co-leads Bakersfield with 12 points (6 goals, 6 assists) in 11 games along with Brad Malone (5-7=12). Edmonton Oilers first-round selections Jesse Puljujarvi and Kailer Yamamoto were recently assigned to the Condors on Nov. 10 but have yet to make an appearance for the Condors this season.
Puljujarvi, the fourth overall selection in 2016, has one goal and no assists in 11 NHL games with Edmonton this season, while Yamamoto, the 22nd overall selection in 2017, has two points (1 goal, 1 assist) in 12 NHL games with Edmonton this season. In net, veteran goaltender Al Montoya has earned a 4-2-0 record with a 2.81 goals-against average (GAA) and .886 save percentage (SV%) in his six appearances. Rookie netminder Shane Starrett 2.50 GAA and .917 SV% in two starts to date.
Willie O’Ree Night
Tonight the Gulls will honor Willie O’Ree’s induction to the Hockey Hall of Fame which occurred just four days ago. Fans are encouraged to be in their seats by 6:55 p.m. for an on-ice ceremony honoring O’Ree, where he will also address the crowd.
Gulls will be wearing throwback jerseys all game that match the jersey O’Ree wore for the San Diego Gulls of the Western Hockey League. In addition, all fans in attendance will receive a Willie O’Ree bobblehead, the first-ever created of O’Ree.
On Jan. 18, 1958, Willie O’Ree became the first black player to play a National Hockey League game with the Boston Bruins against the Montreal Canadiens at the Montreal Forum. He played 45 games with the Bruins, and also became the first black player to score an NHL goal on Jan. 1, 1961. His extraordinary events paved the way for future players of diverse ethnic and economic backgrounds.
O’Ree scored 314 points (153 goals, 161 assists) in 407 games with the San Diego Gulls of the Western Hockey League from 1967-1974. His number 20 hangs in the rafters of Valley View Casino Center.
While his professional hockey career spanned 21 years to its conclusion here in San Diego in 1979, his impact off the ice has been insurmountable and will leave a lasting legacy.
Since 1998, he has worked as the NHL’s Diversity Ambassador for the Hockey Is For Everyone initiative. Likened to his achievement breaking barriers on the ice, his tireless work to grow the sport of hockey for over 20 years has left just as large an impact. Through his role with Hockey is For Everyone, he has helped introduce more than 120,000 boys and girls of diverse backgrounds to unique hockey experiences and served economically disadvantaged youth throughout the U.S. and Canada.