Gulls Return From All Star Break
San Diego kicks off post All-Star break schedule with matchup against San Jose.Jan 31, 2020
The Gulls return home to open a two-game homestand beginning tonight against the San Jose Barracuda at Pechanga Arena San Diego (7 p.m. PT, TV: AHLTV, Radio: San Diego Gulls Audio Network). The teams hit the midway point of a 12-game season series tonight as both clubs begin the stretch run following the AHL’s All-Star Classic earlier this week.
San Diego (18-16-3-2, 41 pts.) kicked off the decade on a positive note, as they earned points in seven of the last eight games (6-1-1-0) and collected 14 of a possible 22 points dating to Jan. 3 (6-3-1-1).
Last weekend, San Diego visited Grand Rapids in a back-to-back series against the Griffins, picking up three of a possible four points, a 4-3 overtime loss Jan. 24 followed by a dramatic 3-1 win the following evening. Grand Rapids native Brent Gates Jr. scored the game-winning goal in front of a crowd with many of his friends and family in attendance.
“It was huge, especially our positioning there,” said Alex Broadhurst. “We knew we needed to go in and get two wins to keep us in the standings where we were. I was happy with our effort. I thought they outplayed us a lot of the times in both games, but to sneak out a gutsy win like that in the second game and grab a point in the first one is huge for us on the road. We’ll take it.”
Two Gulls participated in the AHL's All Star festivities on Sunday and Monday in Ontario. Goaltender Anthony Stolarz and defenseman Chris Wideman represented the Gulls in the two-day event, taking part in the Skills Challenge and All-Star Challenge. The two now rejoin a refreshed Gulls roster following the break, looking to continue the push for a spot in the playoff picture.
“There are different ways you can break down the season at the halfway mark, but the All-Star break really is the start of the second-half push,” said head coach Kevin Dineen. “I like to think you rate yourself where you are. We’re not in a playoff position; we’re sniffing all over it and we know that’s an obtainable goal, but we don’t have the spot we’d like to have right now.”
The second half of the schedule is one where the Gulls traditionally found success, going 84-44-11-2 all-time in games 35-68 of each season, leading the Western Conference and ranking tied for second in AHL win percentage dating to the 2015-16 season (.643%).
Tonight’s matchup is the first of two over a six-day period between San Diego and San Jose. The Gulls own an all-time record of 25-16-3-1 against the Barracuda, including a 14-6-2-1 mark at home. This season, the Gulls earned points in three of the five head-to-head matchups (2-2-1-0).
Chris Wideman continues to lead team defenseman in scoring, collecting 9-13=22 points through 36 appearances this season. In his first season with San Diego, Wideman also leads the Gulls in scoring against San Jose, tallying 1-4=5 points while appearing in all five meetings between the teams. Carrick leads San Diego in scoring (18-11=29), goals and plus/minus (+22), with the captain netting 10 goals his last 12 games (10-5=15) and 17 his last 22 overall (17-7=24).
A key to San Diego’s success in 2020 is its goaltending tandem. Anthony Stolarz holds a 14-10-4 record with a 2.78 goals-against average (GAA) and a .918 save percentage (SV%) in 28 appearances. Stolarz is 4-0-1 with a 2.40 GAA and a .930 SV% his last five starts.
Kevin Boyle posted a 2-2-1 record with a 2.20 GAA and a .932 SV% in his last five games.
San Jose (14-22-1-2, 31 pts.) struggled this season, sitting at the bottom of the Pacific Division. Through 10 games in January, the Barracuda recorded a 4-5-1-0 record, including a franchise record 9-0 victory vs. the Ontario Reign on Jan. 8. San Jose enters tonight’s matchup on a three-game losing streak, collecting one point in an overtime win vs. Iowa on Jan. 17.
One bright spot for the Barracuda - the power-play, as the team ranks near the middle of the league, sitting at 19th (26-of-172, 16.9%). However, their penalty kill struggles, ranking 25th in the league (121-of-150, 80.7%).
Joachim Blichfeld ranks second among all skaters and leads Barracuda rookies in scoring, tallying 13-12=25 points through 29 games. The Frederikshavn, Denmark native held a five-game point streak from Dec. 6-20, collecting 4-5=9 points in that span.
As San Jose’s lone All-Star representative, Blichfeld appeared in all five matchups between the clubs and co-leads San Jose in scoring vs. San Diego, collecting 2-2=4 points (also Jayden Halbewachs and Alexander True). In his second AHL season, Halbgewachs has tallied 14-10=24 points while picking up 3-1=4 points in games during the season series.
The Barracuda recalled Goaltender Zachary Sawchenko from the ECHL’s Allen Americans on Dec. 31. In seven games, posting a 3-2-1 record with one shutout, a 2.38 GAA and a .923 SV%.
Josef Korenar made five appearances in net since the 9-0 shutout win over Ontario, including a game in which Sawchenko replaced Korenar after the first period in the Jan. 22 matchup against Bakersfield where the Barracuda were blanked 5-0. Korenar holds an 8-14-2 record while posting a 3.13 GAA and .887 SV% in 24 games this season.