Gulls, Reign Meet In Penultimate Matchup Of Season SeriesMay 4, 2021
The San Diego Gulls renew acquaintances with the rival Ontario Reign tonight at Toyota Sports Performance Center (6 p.m. PT; TV: AHL TV, RADIO: Gulls Audio Network). San Diego ranks third in the Pacific Division by point percentage (.618) and leads the American Hockey League in wins (23), points (47) and goals scored (133).
The Gulls enjoyed a successful 2020-21 campaign against their Southern California rival, winning seven of eight matchups (7-1-0-0), including all four contests on the road. Tonight, the Gulls will look to complete a five-game sweep of the Reign on Ontario’s temporary home ice.
“It’s a team we’re familiar with. We know what we need to do to have success against them,” said Gulls assistant coach David Urquhart.
San Diego earned consecutive wins over Ontario in a home-and-home set on Apr. 13 (7-4) and Apr. 15 (2-1). The Gulls earned standings points in 13 of their last 15 games against the Reign (11-2-2-0).
“They’re a team that creates offense in a lot of different ways,” added Urquhart. “They activate their defense in the offensive zone and they’re dangerous off the rush. You have to be aware of the scoring throughout their lineup. Defensive zone coverage will be a focus for us.”
The Gulls will look to bounce back after their five-game point streak (4-0-1-0) ended in a loss to the Tucson Roadrunners on Saturday, May 1 in a 9-2 setback.
“We should feel pretty embarrassed by our last game, learn from it and not make those same mistakes,” said Gulls forward and alternate captain Chase De Leo. “We had a good day off to recharge batteries. Came in [Tuesday], got refocused and ready to go. We’re right back at it tomorrow with a big match. We’ve had good responses all year after games that didn’t go our way so I’m expecting a big push back from our group.”
While the Gulls are eager to move forward, they’re focused on carrying the lessons learned into this postseason push.
“You can’t just forget about it. Those are the kind of games where you have to dig deep, figure out what the problem was and make sure it doesn’t happen again,” De Leo explained. “If you’re ever satisfied, that’s when things go south. We’ve got to keep pushing and start fresh again.”
The Gulls continue to show one of the AHL’s most prolific offenses, recently aided by the contributions of its new-look rookie line. Over the last two games, the trio of Benoit-Olivier Groulx, Bryce Kindopp and Alex Limoges combined for 5-8=13 points and scored five of San Diego’s seven goals during the back-to-back set against Tucson.
“The thing that has impressed me most is their ability to raise their game against other team’s top lines,” Urquhart said. “It started earlier this season when we gave them the challenge and they really embraced it. They’ve built on it since then. Every game, they seem to be getting a little better and picking up more details, gaining more experience. To have a rookie line be playing like experienced players, it provides stability for the whole team.”
The Reign enter tonight riding a three-game winning streak. Ontario sits sixth in the Pacific Division by point percentage (.471).