Gulls Take Flight for Colorado Road Trip
Back-to-back set is the first time the Gulls play outside of California this seasonDec 12, 2019
The Gulls travel outside the state of California for the first time this season to visit the Colorado Eagles in the first of back-to-back matchups tonight at Budweiser Events Center (6:05 p.m. PT). San Diego (9-10-1-0, 19 pts.) opens their seventh set of back-to-backs tonight, entering the contest with points in 10 of their last 14 games overall (9-4-1-0, 19 pts.) despite a gut-wrenching 4-3 loss to Grand Rapids Wednesday after holding a 3-1 lead.
The Gulls offense has been explosive lately, totaling 68 goals through the first 20 games, setting a new franchise record. San Diego has also scored 58 goals over its last 14 games (4.1 goals-per game), while recording eight shorthanded tallies in that span, while also netting five goals in seven of those 14 games.
This weekend will mark the first two contests between the two clubs in Colorado, following three straight wins on home ice to open the season series, a club best.
In their most recent matchup seven days ago, the Gulls defeated the Eagles 4-3 on an overtime goal by Jacob Larsson 3:18 into the extra frame. It was Larsson’s second career overtime winner while netminder Anthony Stolarz stopped 29 shots to earn his third straight win against the Eagles. This year, Stolarz has posted a 3-0-0 record with a 2.95 goals-against average (GAA) and a .905 save percentage (SV%). against Colorado.
The Gulls hold a 6-4-1-0 all-time advantage against the Eagles. However, when traveling to Budweiser Event Center San Diego has not found as much success, posting a 1-2-1-0 record. Right wing Daniel Sprong leads the Gulls in scoring this season against the Eagles, totaling 2-4=6 points over all three games. Blake Pietila has 1-3=4 points and Chase De Leo has 1-2=3 points against Colorado this season.
De Leo is finding his stride and is now riding a three-game point streak with 2-2=4 points, extended by his second shorthanded goal of the season in the 4-3 loss to the Griffins. The Southern California native has also posted 4-4=8 points and a +9 rating over his last nine games.
With De Leo’s shorthanded success, San Diego has continued to use “the best offense is a good defense” mentality. The Gulls co-lead the AHL and lead the Western Conference with eight shorthanded goals this season, while also pacing the AHL with five shorthanded goals on home ice. Deven Sideroff and Alex Broadhurst each have back-to-back games.
Tonight Colorado (10-10-2-0, 22 pts.) will begin their longest homestand of the season (six games) before the AHL’s holiday break. Colorado has yet to win a game this year after allowing the game’s first goal, while San Diego has scored the first goal in 11 of their last 14 games. In the 11 games they scored first, the Gulls have posted an 8-2-1-0 record. Eight of those 11 goals came within the game’s first four minutes.
Despite four consecutive losses (0-2-2-0) Colorado still sits in fourth place in the Pacific Division entering the weekend. The Eagles held a lead in three of the four losses, but lost both games against Tucson in regulation and lost to Stockton and San Diego in overtime.
Colorado held a 4-3 lead against Stockton in the third period before allowing a game-tying goal with 42 seconds left,. That score was followed by the game-deciding overtime goal. The roles were reversed in the game against San Diego, as the Gulls held a lead late in the third period and the Eagles tied the game with 2:21 remaining. The Gulls held the puck for most of the overtime period before Larsson netted the game-winning goal.
Center Sheldon Dries leads the Eagles in points (9-7=16) through 21 games, but has been held scoreless in three consecutive games. Prior to his past three games, he tallied 5-2=7 points over a five-game span. The Macomb Township, Wisc. native has played 41 NHL games with the Colorado Avalanche, earning 3-3=6 points.
Eagles netminder Hunter Miska has started back-to-back games for Colorado after Adam Werner was recalled by the Avalanche. Miska holds a 3-3-2 record with one shutout, a 2.33 GAA and a .933 SV%. The Gulls have faced Miska twice this season and have scored nine goals in a pair of victories for San Diego.