Gulls Down Stars 2-1, Win Sixth Straight at HomeJan 16, 2019
Kevin Boyle made 27 saves as the Gulls secured their sixth consecutive home win and extended their point streak to 15 games (12-0-1-2) in a 2-1 victory over the Texas Stars at Penchanga Arena San Diego.
“Our fan support is amazing, they’re always with us, even on our down times,” said head coach Dallas Eakins. “They’re always out there pushing us along. We’re very comfortable here, we love playing at home. I think our record at home over the previous three years shows that.”
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.
Boyle has won 11 of his last 12 games overall (11-0-1), posting a 2.16 goals-against average and .926 save percentage. With his 16th win of the season, Boyle now ranks tied for second among AHL goaltenders in wins.
Shortly after San Diego netminder Boyle made a pad save odd-man rush, Corey Tropp scored on the power play to put the Gulls on the scoreboard with 4:24 left in the opening period. Adam Cracknell made a cross-ice pass to Tropp that led to the goal, while defenseman Trevor Murphy picked up the other assist.
Tropp had missed nine consecutive games prior to tonight’s matchup. With Murphy’s assist, the defenseman has picked up a point in six of his nine games since being traded to the Gulls.
With Matt Berry sitting in the box for slashing, the Gulls jumped on a neutral zone turnover to double the lead. Sam Steel intercepted a pass by Stars defenseman Ben Gleason and raced down the left wing before finding Cracknell waiting on the backdoor. The veteran winger slammed home Steel’s one-time pass, putting San Diego ahead by two just 1:58 after the first goal.
With his sixth career shorthanded score, Cracknell extended his goal and point streak to four games (4-4=8). With the lone assist, Steel has 2-4=6 points over his last six games.
Texas trimmed the lead back to one with a power-play tally at the 16:33 mark of the second period. With Simon Benoit in the box for holding, Texas forward Justin Dowling had his shot blocked, but Erik Condra found the rebound in front of the net and slid it past Boyle for his 15th goal of the season.
Early in the third period, Josh Mahura was flagged for high-sticking, resulting in a double minor and a four-minute power play for the Stars. The Gulls were successful in shutting down the long man-advantage. As soon as San Diego wrapped up their penalty kill, Chase De Leo intercepted the puck and gave himself a breakaway opportunity, but was unable to convert for the goal.
“(Boyle) is huge for our confidence knowing that if he can see it, he’s going to stop it,” said Cracknell regarding Boyle’s performance. “He made some unbelievable saves. We’ve tried to lower their quality of chances. If we keep them to the outside and pick up their sticks, he’s going to do a good job with his rebound control. It’s a great effort by everyone but you need your goaltender to go on streaks like this and he’s been providing that for us right now.
Patrick Eaves and Kiefer Sherwood made their season debut with the Gulls tonight. Both wingers finished scoreless but the two combined for five shots on net.
“Lots of guys in the lineup, out of the lineup, guys up, guys down,” said Eakins. “Having Patrick Eaves come in and play his first game in a long time was fun to watch. A guy like that who has been out of the lineup and played very few games. Just to see him enjoying playing is huge.”
The Gulls will conclude their brief two-game homestand against the Bakersfield Condors this Saturday, Jan. 19 (7 p.m. PT).