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Gulls Bi-Weekly Report: 4th Edition
By Thomas Harrington
The Gulls played five games over the last two weeks, going 2-3. While that’s not a great record, the good news is that in two of those losses, San Diego came back in the next game against the same team and came out with the win.
The Gulls started things out by hosting the Ontario Reign. San Diego started this game out with one of their best periods of the season, as Sam Steel, Max Jones, and Troy Terry all scored in the opening frame to make it 3-0. That was Steel’s first career AHL goal. Unfortunately, Ontario matched that output with three goals of their own in the second period. In the third, the Reign scored the lone goal to steal the 4-3 win from the Gulls.
Next up, the Gulls hosted the Stockton Heat, the last game of a five-game homestand. Giovanni Fiore made it 1-0 just a couple of minutes into the game. Stockton tied it up, but Corey Tropp made it 2-1 before the period was over. In the second, Tropp scored his second goal in a row to make it 3-1. Stockton then stormed back and tied the game at 3-3 just five minutes later. Steel then scored two goals before the period was over, making it 5-3 after two. Stockton didn’t give up and made it 5-4 early in the third, then tying it up late in the period. The Gulls had a late power play, but it looked like the game was going to overtime. However, Stockton scored a shorthanded goal and stole the 6-5 win.
After two demoralizing defeats where they gave up multi-goal leads, the Gulls were determined to get back in the win column of their next game and get revenge against Stockton. The Gulls had another strong start to the game, as Simon Benoit scored his first career AHL goal to make it 1-0. Sam Carrick then scored two goals to make it 3-0 after the first. In the second, Carrick completed the natural hat trick and made it 4-0. Stockton didn’t give up, and scored two goals before the end of the period, including one with about a second to go in the period. In the third, the Heat made it 4-3 with just over three minutes to go in regulation. However, after blowing big leads in back to back games, San Diego tightened down their defense, and Steel and Joseph Blandisi each scored an empty net goal to give the Gulls a 6-3 win.
The Gulls returned home for one of their worst games of the season. Manitoba was in town, a team that included former Gull Logan Shaw. Halfway through the second, Shaw had a natural hat trick and Manitoba had a commanding 3-0 lead. In the third period, Manitoba had increased its lead to 5-0. With less than 20 seconds to go in the game, Luke Schenn scored San Diego’s lone goal and broke Manitoba’s shutout bid. After that disastrous game, the Gulls and Manitoba faced off again. Late in the first, Manitoba took a 1-0 lead, but Jones tied the game up before the period was over. There was no scoring in the second, and only one goal was scored in the third. Blandisi scored a shorthanded goal on a two on one rush to give the Gulls the 2-1 lead and eventual win.
The Gulls will have six games over the next two weeks. They’ll start out by traveling to San Jose and taking on the Barracuda. They’ll then return home for one game to host Tucson before going back on the road and taking on Colorado for a pair of games. The Gulls will then travel to Bakersfield for a game, before returning home to host San Jose.
Terry continues to be San Diego’s most dangerous offensive forward. He had a point in 11 straight games to start his AHL career and has 16 points in 14 games this season, second on the team. Steel had a slow start to his NHL career, but he has four goals in his last five games. Blandisi continues to be one of San Diego’s better veteran forwards and scored his first two goals of the season over the last two weeks. Isac Lundestrom is still searching for his first AHL goal, but he has five assists in six games and continues to be a very smart player for the Gulls.
There are a number of forwards who could get called up if needed, and the most obvious choice is Terry. He’s been stellar since his demotion to San Diego. Another solid choice would be Kalle Kossila. He was actually just reassigned to the Gulls after Carter Rowney got healthy, but he’s got seven points in six games with San Diego and played very well on Anaheim’s fourth line. If the Ducks need any help at forward, it will likely be one of those two. If Anaheim needs help on defense, well, the Ducks already have many of the Gulls’ top defensemen, but Schenn or Andrej Sustr could get the call-up, as Sustr did during Anaheim’s road trip.
The Gulls hit a bit of a bump over the last two weeks, but they showed that they know how to score. As Anaheim’s defense gets healthy, San Diego’s defense should get better and will hopefully help eliminate late goals and giving up multi-goal leads.
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December 3rd, 2018