Gulls Look to Complete Weekend SweepDec 28, 2019
The San Diego Gulls return to Pechanga Arena San Diego for their final home game of 2019 when they complete a home-and-home series with the rival Ontario Reign tonight (7 p.m. PT, TV: AHL TV, RADIO: Gulls Audio Network). San Diego will look to continue the success of the past several weeks, having earned points in five of the last six games overall (3-2-1-1) in addition to 14 of their last 20 games (12-6-1-1, 26 pts.).
The Gulls search for a weekend sweep of their rivals, who they defeated 6-1 at Toyota Arena last night. San Diego enters their final home game of 2019 with a 15-14-1-1 record, collecting 32 points on home ice.
"I think we can be a little bit more crisp with our passes," Kiefer Sherwood said when discussing today's matchup. "We can probably win the blue lines a little bit more. Hopefully we can generate some more chances from offensive zone possession. It all starts from good defense and tonight, we probably gave up too many shots. Moving forward, if we can shut down our defensive zone, everything else will fall into place."
The Gulls returned from the AHL's holiday break with a bang, with six players recording goals and several posting multi-point nights in yesterday's win. Alex Dostie recorded a multi-point game with a goal and an assist. The multi-point effort gave Dostie 11 points (8-3=11), setting a new single-season high in just his 24th game.
Dostie surpassed his career-high in points (10), collected in 41 games during the 2017-18 season.
"I think it’s just structure," he said following the win over the Reign. "You go to those hard areas with our line mates and make some plays. Playing with good players helps, too. My line today, with [Justin Kloos] and [Blake Pietila], we made good plays and went to the net. I think we just need to do that and that’s when our points come."
Defenseman Jani Hakanpaa also recorded a multi-point night, including his first goal of the season, marking his first AHL goal in his last 73 games. He also compiled a career-high +5 rating, tying the Gulls single-game record (also Josh Mahura, Feb. 1, 2019 vs. Ontario).
"It’s going to help a lot. They want us to join the rush and be involved there." he said when discussing the team's scoring from the blue line. "We can still do a good job of it, more consistent with it. I feel like sometimes we just stay back a little too much. We’ll keep working on it and our forwards are doing a good job down there getting pucks on the net and getting in front of the goalie’s eyes. That helps too."
Justin Kloos also set a new club record, kicking off the scoring just eight seconds after opening puck drop. The marker is also the fastest to start a game in the AHL this season. The early goal marked the fourth of the season for Kloos, surpassing the prior Gulls record of 17 seconds set by Jaycob Megna, Mar. 17, 2018 vs. Bakersfield. The goal also marked the earliest to begin an AHL game by Grands Rapids, Nov. 16, 2018 (seven seconds, also vs. Ontario).
"[Cal Petersen] plays the puck extremely well and we were trying to keep it away from him because he gets back there and gets it," head coach Kevin Dineen described while discussing the early goal. "You get a lucky bounce. If that happens in our building, you might be blaming the ice crew, but when it happens in a visitor’s building it’s a nice way to start a game. You get up 1-0 in the first 10 seconds."
San Diego enters tonight's game just four point back of the Reign with five fewer games played.