Sam Steel: A Blend of Two Worlds

PREVIEW: Gulls vs. Heat

Nov 23, 2018

The Gulls host the Stockton Heat tonight as a season-long five-game homestand comes to an end at Valley View Casino Center (7 p.m., Radio: Mighty 1090). San Diego enters the game with points in all but two home games this season (5-2-1-1) and tied for the most points on home ice in the Pacific Division (12). 

San Diego (6-5-1-1) is currently 3-1 on the homestand where they began with three straight wins before Wednesday’s 4-3 setback to the Ontario Reign. The Gulls jumped out to a quick three-goal lead in the first period behind the first AHL goal from Sam Steel, and then power-play markers from Max Jones and Troy Terry. 

The goal by Terry, who also added an assist, was the fourth straight game the 21-year old rookie scored, one shy of the club record set by Brandon Montour in 2016-17. Terry is now riding a club record 10-game point streak that Friday surpassed the previous club record for points in consecutive games set by Corey Tropp (Dec. 9, 2017-Jan. 3, 2018; 8-6=14) and Nic Kerdiles (Feb. 26-Mar. 18, 2016; 7-9=16). Terry has scored points in all 10 career AHL games (7-8=15), as well as all eight home games this season (7-6=13). His point streak is the longest in the AHL this season and currently the longest point streak by an AHL rookie since San Jose’s Marcus Sorensen recorded a 10-game point streak from Jan. 21-Feb. 25, 2017 (6-9=15).

“He has fully invested in his development and he’s been excellent,” said Gulls head coach Dallas Eakins of Terry following Wednesday’s game. “He’s the poster boy of how you should take a demotion from the NHL. He’s going to be a really special player and we look forward to his continued development.”

Terry ranks second among AHL leaders with 1.50 points-per game, leads all AHL rookies in points-per game, co-leads rookies in goals and ranks third in scoring among league rookies.

Tonight begins a home-and-home series with Stockton (9-8-1-0), who is coming off a 3-2 loss at Tucson Wednesday night after scoring eight goals in an 8-2 rout over the Roadrunners the previous night. The Black Friday matchup will be the second of an eight game season series, with the return game of the home and home at Stockton Arena on Saturday (5 p.m.). 

The Gulls are 12-13-3-3 in 21 all-time matchups against the Heat, including 9-4-2-1 on home ice. In the first contest of the season, Stockton edged San Diego, 5-4, in a club record 14-round shootout on Oct. 26. The teams will face off again in San Diego on Mar. 6 and Mar. 30. San Diego will visit Stockton Arena for the first time this season on Nov. 25, followed with a lone contest on Jan. 9 and a back-to-back matchup Mar. 1-2.

Following a game in which the Gulls defeated themselves after jumping out to an early 3-0 lead, the message has consistent from the coaching staff to the players. 

“Stick with the game plan. It’s really simple,” said Eakins. “When you have a three-goal lead, there’s no use changing anything because it’s working. We wanted to go out and do things by our self. When you’re in a team game, it is impossible to do things by yourself.”

Chase De Leo shared similar words following a tough loss to a division rival. 

“Sticking to the plan, sticking to the structure,” said the 22-year old Southern California native. “When we turn pucks over and try to be too cute, that’s when things go south. I think we saw that in the second period. We’re going to learn from it and be better on Friday.”

The game will have extra meaning with the not only the players on the ice, but everyone inside Valley View Casino Center. The Gulls will host the inaugural Hockey Fights Cancer tonight, a campaign that has been uniting the hockey community in support of cancer patients and their families since 1998. The Gulls will wear lavender jerseys throughout the entire game, in addition to lavender helmet decals and stick tape to raise awareness. All proceeds raised from a post-game jersey auction will benefit the American Cancer Society. 

Also, at the second media timeout in the second period, the Gulls will ask fans to hold up “I Fight For” cards that represent those who have been affected by cancer in their lives. 

“Cancer is a disease that affects us all. It has affected many guys in our dressing room,” added Eakins. “It affects everyone around the world. If we can just give back and try to raise some funds to fight this nasty disease, I think we’re better for it.”

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