Gulls Open Preseason Schedule Against Reign In OntarioOct 7, 2021
By AJ Manderichio/SanDiegoGulls.com
Gulls hockey returns tonight.
San Diego opens a two-game exhibition slate against the rival Ontario Reign at Toyota Arena (7 p.m. PT, TV: None, Radio: None). The two teams will conclude the preseason on Monday, Oct. 11 at Honda Center.
For many of the Gulls - both on the ice and behind the bench - tonight is the first taste of an intense rivalry. In addition to the two preseason games, San Diego and Ontario will meet 12 times during the regular season. It's an early test for a team establishing its foundation and finding its identity during training camp.
"I think it's just playing the right way," newcomer Danny O'Regan said. "I think it's just to get everyone comfortable with each other and playing the right way, not trying to do much out there. Just getting comfortable with the pace and the guys out there on your team. Hopefully getting some special teams, some forechecking down. I think that's really important in these games."
O’Regan signed a two-year, two-way contract with the organization on July 29. The former Henderson Silver Knight and San Jose Barracuda knows the brand of hockey the Gulls play and what he’s expected to bring in the preseason opener.
“I've played against the Ducks and Gulls probably too many times in my career, but I was always drawn in,” he said. “I always loved playing against them. I thought they always played a really good style of hockey and a lot of good players than compete hard and play the right way. When I had the opportunity to come here, a lot of it was looking at the roster and seeing who they had, because that's what's going to put me in the best position to be playing with good players. I think I made the right decision. Happy to be here.”
Head coach Joel Bouchard and his assistants, Daniel Jacob and Max Talbot, will also make their debuts with the team. Bouchard became the third head coach in team history on July 9, coming to the West Coast following a successful three-year stint with the Laval Rocket, the American Hockey League affiliate of the Montreal Canadiens. He led the Rocket to a 23-9-4 record in 2020-21, winning the Canadian Division while posting the second-highest points percentage in the AHL (.694).
The opportunity to get in valuable reps behind the bench is just as important to the coaching staff.
“Very excited,” Talbot responded when asked about tonight’s preseason game. “I have a big three games of experience behind the bench right now. The experience at the rookie camp was great for me. I was around the game, I played long enough. I was always thinking about coaching when I was playing. I'm learning from a great head coach, Joel, and I thought rookie camp went great. Now, it's real. The real season is starting, and I'm very excited to learn and grow as a coach and help these guys have success in their own individual career and as a team.”
San Diego returns to Toyota Arena for the first time in 650 days. The two rivals last met in Ontario on December 27, 2019, a 6-1 win for the Gulls. The lone Gull remaining from the game is Hunter Drew, who collected an assist in the victory.