Gulls Close Homestand Against Grand Rapids
The teams meet for the first time since San Diego's inaugural 2015-16 season.Dec 11, 2019
The Gulls conclude their three-game homestand tonight as they host the Grand Rapids Griffins at Pechanga Arena San Diego (7 p.m., TV: AHLTV, Radio: San Diego Gulls Audio Network). The Gulls open a four-game season series against the Griffins as the teams meet for the first time since San Diego’s inaugural season in 2015-16.
Coming off back-to-back wins, including a thrilling 4-3 overtime win last Saturday over Colorado, the Gulls (9-9-1-0) continue their December schedule having earned points in 10 of their last 13 games with a 9-3-1-0 mark. The Gulls also have won six of their last seven on home ice.
“We spent a lot of time the first few days of this week reviewing and tightening up (our game),” said head coach Kevin Dineen. “We’re making sure as we enter one of the busier stretches of the season we have our own ducks in order. We really needed to make sure we’re sharp in a lot of areas. If we play the way we have over the last two months we’ll be fine.”
San Diego and Grand Rapids split their only two meetings in club history, each being victorious in front of the home crowd. On Oct. 10, 2015, the Gulls hosted the Griffins in their first-ever game in San Diego. Two goals from Nick Ritchie, and one from both Brandon Montour and Antoine Laganiere secured the 4-2 win for the Gulls to begin their inaugural season. When the teams met in Grand Rapids on Nov. 20, 2015, the Griffins started strong, ending the first period up 4-1. The Gulls attempted a comeback, but ultimately fell 7-4 when Tomas Jurco scored two power-play goals in 43 seconds, leaving 2:16 on the clock.
The Gulls enter tonight’s matchup with 55 goals the last 13 games (4.2 goals per game), while posting seven shorthanded goals and recording seven games with five or more goals for. The Gulls’ 65 goals this season through the club’s first 19 games matched the franchise mark set in 2018-19. San Diego’s 40 home goals also marks the most through 10 games in club history, surpassing the 39 scored 2016-17.
Chase De Leo has tallied 4-5=9 points in 18 games this season and has been heating up recently. In his last eight appearances, he has recorded 3-4=7 points and a +8 rating, including 1-2=3 points and a +4 rating in his previous two games played. On the blue line, Chris Wideman continues to lead the Gulls defensemen in scoring with 7-8=15 points in 18 appearances this season, while his seven goals lead all AHL defensemen.
In his last 11 starts, Anthony Stolarz has gone 9-1-1, including a career-high seven-game winning streak from Nov. 1-16. This streak bested his previous streak of five games, dating to Mar. 10-26, 2017, during his time with Lehigh Valley.
The Griffins kick off their longest road trip of the year in tonight’s matchup against the Gulls. Along with two stops in San Diego, the Griffins will visit Bakersfield and Iowa before returning home. Struggling as of late, Grand Rapids has collected just one point in their last seven games. After losing in regulation in six consecutive games, the Griffins managed to pick up a point in a shootout loss at home to the Rockford IceHogs last Friday.
Through 25 games, the Griffins have been outscored 89-73, averaging 3.56 goals against. They rank fifth in the league on the power play, capitalizing on 22-of-104 opportunities (21.2%) with the man advantage. On the other hand, their penalty killing struggles as they sit 26th in the AHL, killing off 21-of-96 penalties (78.1%)
“They’re a team that’s had a tough little stretch, but we aren’t far off that either,” said Dineen about the Griffins. “We’ve seen that. We know there are some skilled players on that team.”
In hopes to spark some momentum, the Griffins continue to make roster moves with reassignments from the Red Wings and new signings, having already used 27 skaters and three goalies. Initially drafted in the second round by the Anaheim Ducks in 2007, Eric Tangradi enters his 11th professional season. After playing for the Binghamton Devils last season, Tangradi signed with the KHL’s Astana Barys. The Griffins then signed Eric Tangradi to a one-year contract just a few hours before puck drop on Friday. In 22 appearances for the Astana Barys, Tangradi tallied 5-4=9 points. The 30-year-old left wing played with the Griffins from 2015-18 and appeared in 200 games while collecting 76-74=164 points. In his return, the Philadelphia native scored the lone, unassisted goal for the Griffins in the shootout loss.
Despite the struggling outcomes this season, Chris Terry continues to be a major points producer. After leading the team last season with 61 points, Terry continues to lead Grand Rapids with 11-16=27 points in 25 games, and ranks tied for fourth in the league. Dating from Oct. 23 to Nov. 8, the right wing posted an eight-game point streak, collecting 6-9=15 points in that span.
After being drafted sixth overall in the 2019 NHL Draft, Seider made his first pro appearance with the Griffins in the opening game on Oct. 5. In 25 games, Seider tallied one goal and 11 assists to co-lead the Griffins defensemen in scoring. Joe Hicketts has picked up 12 helpers to co-lead Grand Rapids with Seider.