PREVIEW: Gulls vs. CondorsJan 19, 2019
Only four teams have gone 16 games without a regulation loss the last four seasons. The Gulls will look to match that mark as they enter tonight’s contest vs. the Bakersfield Condors with a club record 15-game point streak at Pechanga Arena San Diego (7 p.m., Mighty 1090). San Diego has won three straight games over Bakersfield and earned points in each of the six previous matchups this season (5-0-0-1).
A key factor in the team’s recent success has been the team’s ability to defend its home ice. San Diego has won six straight games in America’s Finest City dating back to Dec. 15 and leads the Pacific Division with 26 points at home.
“We want to establish that we have a good home presence here,” said Gulls forward Adam Cracknell. “We never want to get pushed around in our own rink. I think that’s best our mentality throughout this stretch, even when we go to away barns, we want to play just as hard, if not harder, just to take their crowd out of it. The guys just have this mentality at home and on the road that we want teams to play with us, not us playing with them.”
San Diego’s 45 points are the most recorded through the team’s first 36 games in club history, while the 20 wins match the previous highs of 20 set through 36 games in both 2017-18 and 2016-17. The Gulls 12-5-1-1 record (26 points) on home ice this season marks the most wins and points in club history through 19 home games.
With many new faces in and out of the Gulls lineup this season, San Diego leads the AHL with 47 different players to appear in a game. The team has been able to rely at least one thing, though: consistent goaltending from netminder Kevin Boyle. The third-year goalie has won 11 of his last 12 games overall (11-0-1), posting a 2.16 goals-against average and .926 save percentage. Boyle now ranks tied for second among AHL goaltenders with 16 wins.
“He’s full of confidence and I love that he’s trying to get better every day,” said Gulls head coach Dallas Eakins. “He’s not just going to sit and rest on his laurels. He’s still trying to improve and not only does that benefit him, it benefits our team.”
San Diego’s point streak reached 15 games Wednesday night with a close 2-1 victory over the former division rival Texas Stars. Playing in his first game in nearly a month, Corey Tropp broke the scoreless tie early. Just two minutes later, Adam Cracknell scored the eventual game-winning goal, finishing a backdoor pass from rookie Sam Steel. Texas would add a second period goal but couldn’t beat Boyle twice, as the Gulls held off the visitor’s comeback attempt.
With a goal and assist, Cracknell has now found the back of the net in four straight games (4-4=8). The veteran forward has made an immediate impact since being acquired in a trade from Toronto on Dec. 10, posting 5-6=11 points and a +12 rating in 11 games with San Diego.
On the other end of the rink, Bakersfield has been among the AHL’s best in keeping the puck out of their net. With 104 goals allowed this season, the Condors rank second in the fewest goals allowed, trailing only the San Jose Barracuda. A big reason for that success has been goaltender Shane Starrett, who joined the team in November. Starrett is currently 8-3-3 with a .910 SV% and a 2.54 GAA over his 17 games played this season.