PREVIEW: Gulls vs. CondorsDec 27, 2018
The Gulls conclude their 2018 calendar year home schedule tonight and begin a home-and-home matchup against the Bakersfield Condors at Pechanga Arena San Diego (7 p.m., Radio: Mighty 1090). San Diego and Bakersfield face off for the fourth game of a 10-game season series where the Gulls own a 16-13-1-1 all-time record against the Condors, including 10-6-0-0 on home ice.
San Diego enters tonight with points in five consecutive games (3-0-0-2) and has scored 24 goals over that span, including 17 the last three contests. The Gulls will look to learn and build off of the momentum of their recent string of strong performances where home ice has been a place of solace as the club looks to climb the Pacific Division standings.
The Gulls enter tonight with a 9-5-1-1 (20 points) record on home ice this season, matching the best home start in club history through 16 home games with nine wins (2017-18 and 2015-16) and 20 points (2015-16).
San Diego comes out of the AHL's holiday break following a 7-6 shootout loss on the road at the Ontario Reign. The Gulls scored four third-period goals and overcame four different two-goal deficits to force overtime and earn a point, but the skills competition loss has been indicative of their season: resilient, exciting, high-scoring and a model of the huge potential this team has.
“That’s about as gritty and hard as we’ve played this year,” said San Diego head coach Dallas Eakins following their most recent game. “Adversity is always good for anyone and we definitely experienced it tonight. You could see them narrow their brow and dig their heels in. It was a night where a lot of our guys were not going to be denied. I’m as proud of a team that I have been here in a long time.”
This iteration of the team is young, learning and just scratching the surface of what could be one of the most dominant teams in the Pacific Division. San Diego has iced 11 different rookies through the club’s first 26 games this season, the second-most rookies to appear in a club’s game in the AHL (Rockford: 12). The 11 first-year players have combined for 27-52=77 points, including 30% of San Diego’s 91 goals this season (excluding shootout goals).
The rookie core has been primarily led by right wing Troy Terry a fifth round selection by the Anaheim Ducks of the 2015 NHL Draft. The Denver, Colo. native co-leads San Diego in scoring (10-16=26) and leads the club in assists. At 21 years of old, he currently ranks tied for second in scoring and tied for fifth in assists among AHL rookies.
The Gulls enter tonight having earned a point in each of the three previous meetings against the Condors, winning two and falling in a shootout earlier this month. Over three games against the Condors, Terry has registered a point in each of them for 2-3=5 points. Currently riding a new six-game points streak (2-5=7), the rookie playmaker will look to continue the trend.
The game will hold significance for several other players as well, including team captain Jaycob Megna and veteran forward Ben Thomson. If they each dress for tonight’s matchup, it will mark Megna’s 200th game as a San Diego Gull, the first to reach the milestone, and Thomson’s 300th AHL game.
On the other end of the rink, Bakersfield has been playing at an equally high-level, winning four of their previous five games and collecting a point in the lone loss. Their success has been largely thanks to their goaltending and team defense as they have allowed an average of just two goals over their five-game point streak, including a 1-0 shutout performance by Dylan Wells at Stockton.
The Condors have a similarly impressive 7-4-0-1 (15 points) road record with a point percentage of .625 while traveling, good enough to be ranked third in the Western Conference.