PREVIEW: Gulls vs. ReignApr 5, 2019
The Gulls open a critical, final two-game homestand that will conclude their 2018-19 home schedule beginning with the Ontario Reign visiting San Diego for the final contest of a 12-game season series tonight at Pechanga Arena San Diego (7:00 p.m., Radio: Mighty 1090). The Gulls own an all-time record of 28-16-1-2 vs. the Reign, including a 13-9-1-0 mark on home ice. San Diego is 7-3-0-1 this season against Ontario while posting a 3-2-0-0 mark on home ice. Tonight isn’t just another game for both the players and those attending, it’s also Fan Appreciation Night (details below).
The Gulls (34-23-4-3) return home Friday fresh off a road win over the division rival San Jose on Wednesday night at SAP Center. The win extended San Diego’s road point streak to five games (4-0-1-0) while the Gulls have earned points in five of their last eight games (4-3-1-0) and 31 of the last 43 games overall (26-12-3-2).
Ben Street and Matt Berry each had two points, Kevin Boyle made 33 saves and the Gulls erased a one-goal deficit in the third period to earn the comeback victory. The game was tied at two heading into the third period, when San Jose took the lead early in the final frame. That lead would not last long though as Justin Kloos tied the game for the Gulls just over a minute later and Street scored the game-winning goal on a pass from Berry with 5:28 left in regulation.
After Wednesday’s win, San Diego enters play Friday sitting third in the Pacific Division with 75 points, two points behind San Jose for second place with the Barracuda holding one game in hand. The Gulls own a one-point lead over fourth place Tucson and are two points ahead of fifth place Colorado, with all three teams even at 64 games played entering Friday. The Gulls’ magic number to clinch a playoff spot is now at seven, meaning any combination of seven points gained by San Diego or lost by the fifth-place Pacific Division team, currently Colorado, would guarantee a postseason position for the Gulls. Ontario (23-30-6-4) sits last in the Pacific Division with 56 points and will miss the playoffs for the first time in the club’s four-year history.
Friday’s game will conclude another season of the Gulls and Reign rivalry, with San Diego winning the season series for the third time in four years. Kalle Kossila leads San Diego in all-time scoring against Ontario (7-18=25), while Corey Tropp leads the club in goals (9). Kossila has scored 3-6=9 points in six games against the division rival this season, while Sam Carrick paces the team in points (7-5=12) and goals. Kevin Boyle has posted a 7-5-2 record with a 2.53 GAA and .917 SV% in 15 career games vs. Ontario.
“They are always a dangerous team for us and the competition level is high,” said Gulls head coach Dallas Eakins. “There’s not a whole lot of love lost for each other so it’s always a competitive game.”
When the teams last met in San Diego on Mar. 23, Chase De Leo scored twice, Kevin Boyle made 33 saves and the Gulls won 5-4 in a shootout. San Diego jumped out to an early 4-1 lead, but Ontario responded with three consecutive goals to force overtime and a shootout. Kalle Kossila and Justin Kloos scored to secure the Gulls third shootout win this season.
While the Reign’s offense ranks in the top half of the AHL, the team’s struggles this season have stemmed from their challenges defending their own net. Ontario is currently last in the AHL with in goals (4.03) and shots allowed per game (36.5). The Reign have also struggled on the penalty kill this season, sitting last in the Western Conference with a 76.8% success rate while shorthanded.
Ontario’s offense is led by veteran winger Matt Moulson, who has scored in four of his last five games against San Diego. Moulson paces the Reign in goals (25), points (57) and power-play goals (13), while also ranking tied-for-first in assists (32). Captain Brett Sutter has posted 19-23=42 points, his best total in three years with Ontario, and recently scored his second career hat-trick in the Reign’s loss to the Gulls on Mar. 23. Second-year netminder Cal Petersen has emerged as the top goaltender for Ontario this season, posting an 11-18-3 record with .895 save percentage. Petersen is 2-3-1 and has allowed 25 goals in six games against San Diego this season.
Fan Appreciation Night
The Gulls will host Fan Appreciation Night this evening. All fans in attendance are winners as they’ll receive a free Gulls prize scratcher upon entry. Every scratch card will have a minimum prize of $5 off Gulls gear at all in-arena merchandise stands (minimum $10 purchase). Random seat locations will be selected throughout the night to win additional Gulls, Anaheim Ducks and sponsor prizes including player autographed items. Other notable prizes that can be won during Fan Appreciation Night, including two Gulls season tickets, a 55" flat screen TV, $100 Gulls merchandise gift card for in-arena purchases and much more. A group of fans will also be invited onto the ice for a "Jersey Off Their Backs" presentation at the end of the game where they will receive one player’s autographed game-worn jersey from Friday’s game