PREVIEW: Gulls vs. ReignDec 21, 2018
The Gulls wrap up their pre-holiday schedule with a home-and-home series against the Ontario Reign this Friday and Saturday night. The Gulls will host the Reign Friday night at Pechanga Arena San Diego (7 p.m., Radio: Mighty 1090) before an afternoon rematch Saturday at Citizens Business Bank Arena (3 p.m., Radio: Mighty 1090). San Diego is 22-15-1-1 all-time against Ontario.
San Diego will look to continue the momentum it gained from back-to-back wins over the Western Conference-leading San Jose Barracuda. The Gulls defeated the Barracuda 4-3 in a shootout last Saturday night before routing the divisional rivals 6-1 on Wednesday.
With a win on home ice Friday night, the Gulls would improve to 9-5-1-1, matching the club record for wins (2017-18 and 2015-16) and points (2015-16) through 16 home games.
“We’re playing with confidence right now,” said Gulls forward Joe Blandisi. “That’s two wins in a row against one of the best teams in the league. Coming into the year, we thought we were one of the best teams in the league and then we fell off a little bit. You can see it when we play our game and we play a full sixty minutes, we are a dangerous team to play against. Hopefully, we can get some momentum here and the snowball keeps rolling.”
Kevin Boyle stopped 23-of-24 shots on Wednesday to earn consecutive wins and back-to-back victories over San Jose. Boyle earned his seventh victory of 2018-19 and has stopped 51-of-55 shots the past two games to post a 1.92 goals-against average (GAA) and .927 save percentage (SV%).
Matt Berry scored his first goal of the season and tallied two assists to set a new single-game career high and first AHL multi-point game (2-1=3). Berry’s goal was his first with San Diego since his game-winning tally in a 4-2 Gulls victory over Ontario on February 20, 2016.
“Matt Berry has played very well since he’s come in,” said Eakins. “He’s been given an opportunity and he’s run with it. He’s been very responsible. Tonight, he had a good impact on the game.”
The Gulls will take on the Reign for the fourth and fifth time of 12 total matchups this season. San Diego won the initial matchup with a 6-5 shootout victory in Ontario on October 13. Andy Welinski scored two goals, Chase De Leo and Giovanni Fiore each had two points, and Jared Coreau made 38 saves in the Gulls first win of the season. Ontario won both matchups in November, including a 4-3 decision on November 21 in San Diego.
Troy Terry (1-2=3) and Max Jones (2-1=3) each have 3 points in two games against Ontario this season. Over 24 games played with San Diego, Corey Tropp has recorded 7-11=18 points vs. the Reign, good for the club’s all-time lead in points and goals against the Southern California rival.
The Reign’s roster will look slightly different than it did the last time these teams met on November 21 as the Los Angeles Kings assigned forwards Austin Wagner and Michael Amadio, and defenseman Sean Walker to Ontario. The Kings also sent goaltender Jack Campbell to the AHL affiliate on a conditioning assignment following knee surgery earlier this season. Campbell has appeared in 13 games for Los Angeles this season, compiling a 2.33 GAA and .923 SV%. Walker leads all Reign defensemen with 6-11=17 points in 20 games and has three points in three games against the Gulls this season.
The Reign enter the weekend 9-10-3-2 on the season, tied with San Diego with 23 points on the season. Ontario has been struggling of late, however, as the Reign have dropped four consecutive games dating back to Dec. 7 (0-2-1-1).
Following this weekend’s games, the Gulls will begin the holiday break before returning home to take on the Bakersfield Condors on Thursday, Dec. 27 at Pechanga Arena San Diego (7 p.m., Radio: Mighty 1090).