Gulls Prepare For First Extended Road TripFeb 23, 2021
By AJ Manderichio/SanDiegoGulls.com
As San Diego prepares for its first extended road trip of the 2020-21 season, the team knows it won’t be business as usual.
Most teams point to road trips as a bonding experience, where players and team personnel attend dinners and build chemistry away from the rink. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic eliminates many of those opportunities, adding a new wrinkle to this unique season.
“We just try to do our best to follow the COVID protocols,” Antoine Morand said after today’s practice. “I think we have a really strong group this year, and everybody is having fun so far at the rink. On the ice, that's where we can really interact with each other. We're trying to have good practice, good pace and have fun out there.”
The philosophy carried over into today’s skate, a crisp 30-minute practice before the Gulls embark on their four-day stay in Nevada. San Diego and the Henderson Silver Knights – the American Hockey League's newest team – begin a three-game series tomorrow at 7 p.m. PT.
“They have some good offense and some good goaltending as well,” assistant coach Sylvain Lefebvre said. “They're a team that - even if they're new - some of those guys played together in Chicago and know each other. That's a team we played against a few years ago in the playoffs, and some of those guys are going to be there. And obviously, some new faces. It's an organization that's really deep, and they have some good players, either young or players they signed as free agents. They're a deep team.”
The Gulls will focus on a good start, something the team used to help power it to a recent 7-3 win over the Colorado Eagles. It marked the first time in seven games San Diego scored the first goal, and they’d like to replicate the same intensity and focus to kick off the road trip.
“Well, obviously, we cannot be complacent, especially against a team that's pretty good,” Lefebvre said. “We watched their games, and they're a skilled team that competes as well. We want to have the same mentality going in. Obviously, we weren't happy with the game in Bakersfield, and our start in Bakersfield. We wanted to come out strong, and we did.”
TEAMMATES REACT TO ZEGRAS’ NHL DEBUT
Excitement buzzed in Southern California last night, as Trevor Zegras made his much-anticipated National Hockey League debut with the Anaheim Ducks.
The team’s ninth overall selection in the 2019 NHL Draft, Zegras began the season with San Diego, scoring 4-5=9 points with a +4 rating and eight penalty minutes (PIM) in eight AHL games. At the time of his recall, the 6-0, 176-pound forward co-led the AHL in scoring, ranked tied for fourth in goals and tied for sixth in assists, while co-leading all rookies in assists.
Morand and his teammates made sure to watch the game, showing their support for their former teammate.
“We saw him during the start of the season, and he's an amazing player,” he said. “It was just a matter of time. We all knew it, and we were waiting for the moment he would make the big step. It's huge for the team, it's huge for Ducks, too. I think he's going to be a key player for the future, and it's really exciting to see him out there. We watched the game yesterday, and he looked great, looked confident. Hopefully, he can help the team to win some games.”