Gulls, Barracuda Open Back-to-Back Series In IrvineMar 5, 2021
Fresh off their first road win of the season, the San Diego Gulls (8-4-0-0) return home to host the San Jose Barracuda (3-3-1-0) tonight at FivePoint Arena. The Gulls are perfect on home ice this season, pacing the American Hockey League in home wins (7) and points (14).
San Diego earned its first road win of the season with a 5-4 overtime victory over the rival Ontario Reign on Wednesday. Chase De Leo scored twice (2-0=2), including his second career overtime goal, and Sam Carrick added two points (1-1=2) for his second consecutive multi-point effort.
Andrew Poturalski put on a show, collecting a career-tying three assists (0-3=3) to lift him into a tie for the league lead in helpers. The win snapped a three-game losing streak for San Diego after it started the season with seven wins in eight games.
San Diego’s special teams powered the win over Ontario, as the Gulls converted on all three power-play chances while killing off all four of Ontario’s opportunities on the man-advantage. The Gulls rank third in the AHL on the penalty kill (50-for-55, 90.9%).
“I think our penalty kill has been very consistent and we’ve been running a lot of the same guys. There’s some chemistry in that area,” said Gulls head coach Kevin Dineen. “Our power play has just been okay. I haven’t felt like we’ve had a lot of good looks and [Wednesday] I think it was simple and the puck was moving at a crisp pace and one step ahead, and when you do that good things tend to follow.”
The Gulls and Barracuda meet tonight for the first of a six-game season series. San Diego found success against San Jose a season ago, earning points in nine of 11 contests, including a four-game win streak. The Gulls own a 30-16-4-1 record all-time against the Barracuda, including a 14-10-2-0 mark on home ice.
“We played them twice in the exhibition. We had a win and a loss and we know they have a better team than last year,” said Gulls assistant coach Sylvain Lefebvre. “They’re stronger defensively and bigger. Offensively, they have some good skill players who play physical as well and have pretty good speed.”
San Jose enters play this weekend fifth in the Pacific Division with seven points. The Barracuda earned a two-game sweep of the Reign in San Jose last weekend before suffering a 6-0 defeat to the Bakersfield Condors on Wednesday. Joachim Blichfield leads the Barracuda attack with a team-best six goals and nine points (6-3=9). Blichfield has four multi-point efforts in six games this season.
San Jose’s lineup could also include a familiar face in former Gulls captain Jaycob Megna, the club’s all-time leader in games played (216). Megna signed a one-year contract with San Jose in November and leads team blueliners in penalty minutes (6).
The Barracuda roster also includes two Southern California natives, Jacob McGrew (Orange) and Evan Weinger (El Segundo). McGrew, a former member of the Anaheim Jr. Ducks as a youth hockey player, was a 2017 sixth-round selection by the Sharks and has two points (1-1=2) in four games this season. Weinger, who signed with San Jose as an undrafted free agent in 2018, appeared in his 100th career AHL game on Feb. 13.
Three netminders, including two rookies, split the goal for San Jose this season. Third-year pro Josef Korenar leads the club with two wins and a .929 save percentage. Rookie Sam Harvey earned his first career AHL victory Feb. 12 against Texas while fellow first-year netminder Alexei Melnichuk has allowed 13 goals in his first three AHL appearances (0-2-1).