Gulls Welcome Iowa to Pechanga Arena San Diego
San Diego enters tonight 3-0-0 against the Wild on home iceJan 8, 2020
The Gulls hit the midway point of a season-long five-game homestand and open a four-game season-series against the Iowa Wild tonight at Pechanga Arena San Diego (7 p.m. PT, TV: AHL TV, RADIO: Gulls Audio Network).
This marks the first of two visits from Iowa this season and the seventh between the clubs dating to 2016-17. It also will be the third of eight meetings between the Gulls and Central Division opponents, with the club holding a 26-9-4-1 record vs. the Central all-time, the highest win percentage by a Pacific Division club against inter-conference foes (.713%).
The Gulls look to improve on a perfect 3-0-0-0 record on home ice vs. the Wild, where they have outscored Iowa 14-3 in the three contests. All-time, San Diego boasts points in all six games in with a 5-0-1-0 record, with a 23-10 bump on the score sheet overall.
“It’s nice, for sure,” said Sam Carrick regarding playing teams outside of the Pacific Division. “We see the same teams a lot in this division. That’s part of why this division is always so tight and why wins are so big, because every game you play is pretty much a four-point game when you’re playing against your division. We’re excited to see some new faces out there.”
The Gulls (12-14-2-2, 28 pts.) kicked off their 2020 calendar year schedule with back-to-back home games against the Bakersfield Condors this past weekend. San Diego collected a point in a 2-1 shootout loss Saturday after falling 3-2 the night prior. Carrick extended his goal streak to three games (4-0=4) as he tallied a goal in both games against the Condors.
“We weren’t disappointed with the effort, with our overall team play” said head coach Kevin Dineen following Saturday’s performance. “The frustration comes from the lack of points you end up with. One out of four points, that’s just not good enough for this stage. Our players realize it, we realize it and I think they played like they realized it. Unfortunately, it didn’t come to getting us the two points we needed. But, if we play that way, we’ll have better luck moving forward.”
San Diego currently sit sixth in the Pacific Division five points behind the Condors and eight behind Ontario with two and five games in hand respectively on the two clubs above them. The Gulls will enter tonight having negated 10 straight penalties, the second-longest mark this season behind the 12 straight killed from Oct. 26-Nov. 2 over a three-game span. Through their 30 games, San Diego has killed off 107-of-117 penalties (83.8%), ranking fourth in the Western Conference while the 10 shorthanded goals put the Gulls second in the AHL overall.
Iowa (20-12-2-2, 44 pts.) enter the contest on a three-game winning streak, dropping just two of their last 10 games (8-2-0-0). Iowa also has success in their special teams department as their penalty kill ranks second in the Western Conference (125-146, 85.6%). The Wild also possess a strong power play, ranking tied for second in the AHL with 34 goals on the man advantage.
“They have a good power play,” said Kloos regarding his former team. “They have guys that have been playing together for two or three years, so you can get comfortable and familiar with the way they play. So, we’re going to have to play hard on the penalty kills and limit their opportunities.”
Sam Anas leads the Wild in scoring (9-28=37) and assists this season, while he also sits third in AHL scoring to date. The right wing holds onto a five-game point streak dating to Dec. 27, collecting 2-11=13 points over that span. Right wing Gerald Mayhew leads the AHL in goals (23) while he sits fourth overall among league leaders in scoring (23-12=35)with Iowa boasting two top-five scorers this season. He holds onto a career-high eight-game point streak that started on Dec. 18, tallying 9-6=15 points in those games. Brennan Menell leads Wild defensemen with 3-22=25 points.
With Kaapo Khakonen recently recalled to the parent NHL club Minnesota Wild yesterday, it becomes Mat Robson’s net for Iowa. Through 16 games, Robson is 6-7-3 with one shutouts a 2.86 goals-against average and .903 save percentage.
A familiar face on the Wild blue line will return for his first game in San Diego. Defenseman Keaton Thompson spent three seasons with the Gulls from 2016-19, picking up 9-30=39 points in 179 games with San Diego to begin his professional career. Thompson has appeared in 18 games with Iowa this season, recording one goal and six points (1-5=6) with a +7 rating.