Gulls Primed for Second-Half Success
Team's post All-Star break record ranks near the top of the leagueJan 31, 2020
By AJ Manderichio/SanDiegoGulls.com
The familiar sounds of hockey are back.
Sticks banging pucks, skate blades digging into the ice and coaches barking instructions echoed through yesterday’s practice at THE RINKS – Poway ICE after the American Hockey League’s (AHL) All-Star break. The four-day getaway provided a chance for the San Diego Gulls a chance to reset mentally and physically before the upcoming second-half push.
“Our sport is a stressful one; it’s high impact on your brain and your body,” center Alex Broadhurst said following the team’s practice. “It’s nice to get that break. I know everyone enjoyed it. Coming back, everybody’s like, ‘The break’s too short.’ And I know it’s short. We’re ready to go. We have a tough schedule coming up, but we’re ready to go. We’re ready.”
“It’s nice to get out of the rink and do something else; mess around at the beach or at home,” said Max Comtois. “We’re all excited to come back here. I think the second part of the season will be awesome. It looks bright for the future.”
San Diego enters the second half chasing a playoff position. The team trails its rival, the Ontario Reign, by four points for fourth place in the Pacific Division.
The Gulls, however, hold an advantage over most of their division foes – games in hand. San Diego played 39 games before the break, tied with San Jose for the fewest in the AHL. It gives them an advantage as they hunt down a playoff spot, as they’ve played at least one game fewer than every team in front of them while having the fourth-best points percentage among Pacific Division clubs
“We talked about it in our meeting (Thursday),” Broadhurst explained. “We had all the standings, where we’re at, the points we need and the games in hand. We’ll definitely be paying attention to the board. We know where we stand. We have to pick it up in the second half to make the playoffs. Plain and simple. We have to pass some teams on our schedule coming up here, and they’re good teams, they’re good opponents.
“It’s going to be a battle. We’re prepared for it.”
If past seasons are any indication, San Diego is primed for yet another successful back half of the regular season. The Gulls are 3-1-1-0 this season and are 84-44-11-2 all-time in the second half (games 35-68), leading the Western Conference and ranking tied for second in AHL win percentage dating to the 2015-16 season (.643%). The Gulls have points in 97 of the 141 games to date (69%).
Only the Providence Bruins and Toronto Marlies have posted better records over that period.
Captain Sam Carrick, a key member of previous second-half runs, discussed how his team can replicate its past success.
“Whether it’s individually or as a team, you need everyone going every night, especially this time of year,” he said. “The games are so important, and it just needs to be a team effort.”
Despite the games-in-hand advantage, head coach Kevin Dineen knows there’s no margin for error.
“Coming back after the All-Star break, there’s a little feeling-out process to get your game back, and we don’t have that luxury,” he noted. “We have to come back ready to go. Important weekend set versus San Jose and, obviously, a four-point game against Ontario.”
The energy and excitement of yesterday’s practice underlined San Diego’s mindset heading into the post All-Star schedule.
“We’re in a tough spot in the standings. We’re climbing back; we have games in hand that are extremely important,” Comtois said. “It’ll be important to play our game, to manage the rest, but when we go out to practice or play our games, it’s all out. It’s going to be do-or-die until the end of the season.”