Preview: Gulls Look to Continue Win Streak Tonight Against StocktonOct 26, 2018
The Gulls put their three-game win streak on the line tonight when they host the Stockton Heat at Valley View Casino Center (7 p.m., ESPN 1700-AM) for the first of eight matchups between the California-based clubs. The Gulls will be looking to build on their current three-game winning streak as they prepare for their third consecutive weekend with back-to-back games and the final two contests of October.
In seasons past, the common theme in these two teams’ matchups has been home-ice advantage. The Gulls have a strong all-time record of 9-4-2-0 on home ice, but have struggled on the road, going 3-9-1-2 over three seasons at Stockton Arena.
In 2017-18, the Gulls won the special teams battle, going 12-for-45 (26.7%) on the power play and 28-for-35 (80.0%) on the penalty kill. San Diego picked up where they left off and have continued their special teams success five games into this season. Their power play is currently ranked sixth (26.3%) and their penalty kill stands at ninth (86.2%) among AHL clubs.
Gulls defenseman Andy Welinski gave credit to the Gulls special teams success and believes it has played a large role in their current winning streak.
“It’s definitely important. Anytime that you can win the special teams battles in a game, it’s going to be a huge help,” said Welinski. “You win a lot more games winning that battle. We need to continue to be aggressive and maintain a forecheck. That was something that we did really well. To build off of that, we need to be right on them and continue offense through that by playing good defense and being tight to them.”
The Gulls recent success can also be attributed to their arrival of 21-year-old Troy Terry and the offensive ability that he brought with him. Over just two games, he has already has registered 2-3=5 points, including a game-winning goal. He had previously logged six games with Anaheim, going scoreless in his first full professional season. The rookie feels good about the current state of the Gulls hockey team and holds high expectations for what is to come.
“We got a really good team, we got a good group of guys,” said Terry. “What you look for in a good hockey team, we have all of that. We have fast guys, we have good two-way guys, guys that can score, a good [defensive-core] and two really good goalies. I think every weekend we go in trying to win two games and obviously focus first on Friday night. We feel good about where we are at as a team.”
Another addition to the San Diego lineup could be center Kalle Kossila, who was medically cleared to play this week following hip surgery over the summer. Kossila owns 37-69=106 points with a +18 rating in 126 career games with San Diego, ranking second all-time in points, goals and assists amongst club leader Corey Tropp in all three categories. Last season, the Finnish native set career highs in points (21-33=54) and goals last season, with his scoring punch adding another to the depth the Gulls expected heading into the season.
Stockton enters tonight’s contest with a 2-3-1-0 record through six games this season, giving up an uncharacteristic 31 goals, tops among Western Conference clubs. Both goaltenders in Jon Gillies (1-1-1) and Tyler Parsons (1-2-0) have struggled to open the season, posting a 4.79 and 4.91 goals-against average respectively, while only combining for a .835 save percentage.