PREVIEW: Gulls Look For Luck Of The Irish On St. Patrick’s Day GameMar 11, 2023
By AJ Manderichio/SanDiegoGulls.com
Get ready for a shamrockin’ evening at Pechanga Arena San Diego.
The San Diego Gulls host the Henderson Silver Knights in the team’s annual St. Patrick’s Day game tonight on home ice (7 p.m. PT; TV: AHL TV; RADIO: Gulls Audio Network). The themed contest will feature a tailgate in the North VIP Lot beginning at 5 pm, which features a special performance by the Clan Rince School of Irish Dance., green beer and more. Inside, the team will wear specialty jerseys, sporting a green and orange motif with the wordmark logo across the chest. The first 7,000 fans in attendance will receive a reversible Gulls bucket hat.
The San Diego Gulls Foundation will host an auction featuring autographed player-worn St. Patrick’s Day jerseys and select special edition St. Patrick’s Day pucks signed by Gulls players. Fans can participate by visiting sandiegogulls.com/auction, with bidding to conclude at 9 p.m. on Mar. 11. In addition, the Gulls Foundation will hold a game-worn jersey raffle and a St. Patrick’s Day Surprise Puck sale during the game. Raffle tickets ($10) and Surprise Pucks ($20) are available on the concourse at the Gulls Foundation table at Section 10. Pucks are selected at random, with five surprise pucks including an additional gift of either Gulls player-signed memorabilia or Gulls merchandise (limit five pucks per person). All proceeds will benefit the Gulls Foundation.
On the ice, the Gulls look to keep the good times rolling, entering tonight with three straight wins and standings points in four of their last five games (4-1-0-0). San Diego took the first game of the back-to-back weekend series with Henderson last night, blanking the Silver Knights 2-0. Gage Alexander recorded his first professional shutout, becoming the youngest goaltender in the team’s American Hockey League history at 20 years, eight months and eight days to achieve the feat. He turned aside all 26 shots he faced and enters today with a .969 save percentage and 0.97 goals against average over his last three games.
"Yeah, I mean, it was a lot tonight," he said following the win. "I think the boys...we did a great job tonight and we stuck to our system. I mean, we worked. We worked really hard this week in practice. We really just wanted to follow up our weekend from last weekend and just keep this thing rolling."
Alexander received offensive support from Chase Priskie, who tallied a power-play goal in the second period to collect his third goal in two games with the Gulls. Acquired by the Anaheim Ducks from the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for Austin Strand on Mar. 3, Priskie has nearly matched his goal total from his 42 games with the Rochester Americans earlier this season.
"Definitely not a start I anticipated, but not complaining whatsoever," he said. "For me, I just want to play my game. I want to skate, I want to make plays and move the puck and, you know, if those things happen, then they happen and I won't complain."
The Gulls also saw the return of Justin Kirkland and Benoit-Olivier Groulx, who both returned to the lineup last night. The latter made an immediate impact, opening the scoring just over four minutes into the second period with his 12th goal of the season. The French native set a career high in goals on the play, and also established a new career best with his 12-18=30 points.
"The biggest thing is, kind of everyone (is) playing together," Gulls head coach Roy Sommer said. "We had four lines going tonight, all the d(efensemen) were going, got an outstanding performance by (Gage) Alexander and the net, you know, got his first shutout. I heard it was the youngest goalie ever to have a shutout in Gulls history, which is kudos to him. Just been a good vibe here the last couple weeks, 10 days, and guys practiced hard and bringing that into the game. Tonight was no different."
The Gulls look to continue to spoil Henderson’s push for a playoff spot. The Silver Knights dropped their last two games and entered today seven points back of the seventh-place Tucson Roadrunners.
"I think the big thing (is) play like we did tonight," Sommer said of tonight’s rematch. "You know, have all four lines contribute, stay out of the box. I thought, for the most part, we did a pretty good job of that tonight. And, you know, basically just play like we did. We're (a) pretty confident team right now. I thought we broke pucks out real well and defended, kept everything to the outside. When we had breakdowns, we had a goalie that made a save for us."