PREVIEW: Gulls vs. ReignFeb 6, 2019
The Gulls looks to continue their winning ways as they put a three-game win streak on the line tonight when they conclude a three-game homestand against the Ontario Reign at Pechanga Arena San Diego (7 p.m. PT, Radio: Mighty 1090). Tonight’s game will be the lone Gulls home contest in a span of 14 days as the club embarks on a club record and season-long six-game road trip over the following two weeks. In addition to three straight wins, San Diego enters today with wins in 13 of their last 16 games (13-2-1-0) and points in 19 of 21 (16-2-1-2), while also boasting wins in eight of their last nine home games.
San Diego is coming off a weekend which saw them down the Reign, 6-1, Friday, followed by a 4-1 win over the Iowa Wild on Saturday. In their third consecutive victory, Kevin Boyle stopped 40-of-42 shots over the weekend to bring his win streak to three as well. The win Saturday marked his 19th of the season in his 29th appearance, tying his own previous record for most wins in a single season by a Gulls goaltender set in 2017-18 (19 wins in 35 games last season).
As of late, one of the most dominant lines that San Diego has rolled out has been Sam Steel, Troy Terry and Jack Kopacka. In their last matchup against the Reign on Feb. 1, the line combined for 3-4=7 points as Steel set a new career high for points in a single game (2G/2A) and Kopacka scored a goal for the second straight game.
“It feels good to be back. It’s nice to start off having some really good line mates with (Steel) and (Terry),” said Gulls rookie forward Kopacka. “We’re working pretty well together. I like to play with speed and those guys are really fast. You give them the puck and they’re going to make plays. It’s pretty easy playing with them, just put my stick on the ice, get open and just play fast.”
San Diego and Ontario matchup for the second time in the span of six days tonight at Pechanga Arena San Diego. The Gulls are currently 5-2-0-1 in eight previous matchups this season, while San Diego has won three straight games vs. Ontario and earned points in five straight matchups (4-0-0-1), outscoring the Reign 25-13 in that span. In addition the Gulls are 26-15-1-2 all-time vs. Ontario, including 12-8-1-0 on home ice. San Diego has won six of their previous seven games over Ontario at home dating to 2017-18 (6-1-0-0). Kalle Kossila leads San Diego in all-time scoring (6-16=22) and assists vs. Ontario in 25 career games, with 6 points (2G/4A) in four games this season.
“I feel like we’ve played them probably 200 times in the last three years, but I love playing them,” said head coach Dallas Eakins on facing Ontario. “I have no problem with the amount of times that we do play them. I always say that it’s an excellent game. They’re a highly competitive team as are we. There’s never a yawner when these two teams play so I always look forward to them.”
Ontario’s struggles have continued as the team has just picked up three wins in 2019, competing in 12 contests over that time. Ontario sits at the bottom of the AHL standings with a 13-22-4-2 record and .390 points percentage. They enter tonight with back-to-back defeats where they were outscored 12-3, the aforementioned 6-1 loss to the Gulls followed by a 6-2 loss to Bakersfield on Saturday. The Reign have allowed the second most goals against this season (171), while tying for the fourth in fewest goals scored in the league (122). Five goalies have played for Ontario over the course of the season, combining for a .880 save percentage, a 4.07 goals against average and no shutouts. The duo of Cal Petersen and Peter Budaj currently make up the goaltending tandem up Interstate 15.
Matt Moulson continues to pace Ontario in scoring behind his 35 points and 18 goals. Rookie All-Star Sheldon Rempal paces the Reign in assist (19) while recent Los Angeles Kings acquisition Carl Grundstrom has combined for 30 points (13G/17A) in 44 games between the Reign and Toronto Marlies.