Gulls Kick Off Five Game HomestandJan 3, 2020
The Gulls open their 2020 calendar year schedule and a season-high five-game homestand tonight vs. the Bakersfield Condors at Pechanga Arena San Diego (7 p.m. PT, TV: AHLTV, Radio: San Diego Gulls Audio Network). San Diego opens its 12-game January schedule with a 27-13-2-1 record in the month all-time. Tonight also opens the ninth back-to-back matchup of the season for San Diego, where the club has posted a record of 8-9-1-0 overall and 4-5-0-0 the first matchup (4-4-1-0 the second contest).
San Diego closed the last decade with a 166-108-17-9 record (.597%), good for 358 points in 300 games. The AHL club leads the Pacific Division in all-time wins, points and points percentage since the division’s inception in 2015-16, while also ranking second among Western Conference clubs in points percentage since 2015-16. Among Western Conference leaders, the Gulls rank second in points percentage dating to 2015-16, while ranking tied for third with a .623% home points percentage (88-51-8-4). The Gulls also lead the Pacific Division in road wins dating to 2015, posting a 78-57-9-5 record.
The Gulls have earned points in three of the last four games (2-1-1-0), seven of the last 11 contests (5-4-1-1) and 11 of their last 17 overall (8-6-2-1). In their most recent matchup, a 7-4 loss to the Tucson Roadrunners at Tucson Arena, San Diego scored their 10th shorthanded goal of the season, tying Providence for the AHL lead.
San Diego scored their 10 shorthanded goals over the last 22 contests, with the penalty kill nearly matching the opposition power play 10-14 in that span (68-of-82 success rate on the penalty kill). Overall, San Diego’s penalty kill ranks second in the AHL with a goal differential of -9 (19 power-play goals against, 10 shorthanded goals), behind only Charlotte (-8).
Justin Kloos recorded the shorthanded goal and added an assist to mark his second multi-point effort the last three games and extend his goal/point streak to three games (3-2=5). His sixth goal overall and third shorthanded co-leads San Diego (also Alex Broadhurst) and ranks tied for second among AHL leaders in shorthanded goals. He also tied San Diego’s all-time single season mark of three set by Broadhurst, Sam Carrick (2018-19), Chris Wagner (2016-17) and Jordan Samuels-Thomas (2016-17). Kloos also leads San Diego and ranks tied second among AHL leaders in shorthanded points (3-2=5).
“I’ve been fortunate enough to play on the penalty kill for a while now,” said Kloos following the game. “I think the best way to do it is be aggressive, don’t give them any time and space. I’ve played on the power play a decent amount too, so I know you hate that. When you have those killers all over you, it’s frustrating when you kind of want to slow the game down a little bit. I’m just fortunate to bury that one tonight.”
The Gulls will also be welcoming back a familiar face to their lineup. On Dec. 30, Anaheim Ducks acquired center Chris Mueller in exchange for defenseman Patrick Sieloff. Mueller rejoins San Diego following the inaugural 2015-16 season where he led the Gulls in goals (20) and power-play goals (8), co-led the club in scoring 57) and ranked second in assists (37). The Lake Seneca, NY native became the first 20-goal scorer in Gulls history. Mueller also led San Diego in postseason scoring in 2016, recording 4-7=11 points in nine Calder Cup Playoff games. This season, Mueller also ranks tied for second in the AHL, next to Kloos, in shorthanded points (2-3=5).
In their first game of 2020, the Gulls prepare for the third contest of an eight-game season series against the Condors, the first at Pechanga Arena San Diego. The Gulls dropped the season-opening contest 2-1 on Oct. 4 but won the following matchup 5-3 on Nov. 8. In 2018-19, San Diego was the only team to post a winning record against the Condors with a 6-3-0-1 record, earning points in four-of-five road games (3-1-0-1). San Diego is 22-16-1-1 all-time against Bakersfield in the regular season (11-8-0-0 on the road).
Bakersfield currently sits at fifth in the Pacific Division with a 12-13-4-1 record. After a 6-4-1-1 Nov. record, the Condors experienced some struggles with a 1-4-1-0 mark over their next six games, getting outscored 18-31 by opposing teams over that span. Through their first 27 games played this season, Bakersfield has recorded the fewest goals in the Western Conference (77). In their following three games, the AHL club combined for 14 goals and now ranks tied for 12th in the conference.
Left wing Tyler Benson leads the Condors in scoring (7-18=25), assists and ranks tied for third in goals. The Edmonton, Alberta native has three multi-assist performances over the last four games. Benson also had four-point performance (3-1=4) earlier in the season on Nov. 9 at Bakersfield, marking his first career hat trick. Rookie blueliner Evan Bouchard has 4-12=16 points through his first 30 regular season games in the AHL. Bouchard was Edmonton’s first-round draft selection (10th overall) in 2018. He leads all first-year defensemen in shots (79).
As one of three goaltenders in the Condors rotation this season, Stuart Skinner has started three consecutive games, posting a 9-7-3 record with a 3.67 goals-against average (GAA) and a .878 save percentage (SV%). Skinner made four appearances in the 2019 Calder Cup Playoffs including a 46-save performance in his first-ever playoff start and win on May 8 against the Gulls at Pechanga Arena San Diego.
Following tonight’s game, these two teams will conclude the back-to-back matchup tomorrow, Jan. 4 at Pechanga Arena San Diego (7 p.m.).