Welcome to the new season of Meanwhile On The Farm - or MOTF for short.
If the beginning of this season is feeling a tad like Groundhog Day but without the disheveled Bill Murray - you would be correct.
The Gulls are missing the following eligible players to start the year:
- Kalle Kossila
- Kevin Roy
- Sam Steel
- Kiefer Sherwood
- Ben Street
- Korbinian Holzer
In a rush to fill out the remaining empty forward spots we saw the return of Logan Shaw on a PTO as well as veteran Luke Gazdic (last seen on the Heat) in addition to a PTO for ECHL forward and nephew of Bryan Marchment - Jake Marchment.
Prior to training camp beginning, the Gulls also signed Tyler Soy and Simon Benoit to one year deals.
Benoit in particular earned his deal - standing out in Rookie camp and making it through the first couple of cuts from the main Ducks camp. The undrafted 20-year old had 28 points in 63 games for the Shawinigan Cataractes in his last year in the Q - his style appears to be no-nonsense stay-at-home, and at rookie camp he reminded me of a younger more raw Josh Manson.
Possibly the most important and exciting news of the pre-season came in the form of the Gulls announcing that they would be naming their 2nd ever captain in the rebooted franchise’s history. I had the smart money on it being either Corey Tropp, Sam Carrick or Jaycob Megna and got my wish when it was announced that Megna would be given the C.
As to be expected the new season has not started well for San Diego - with the absence of firepower up front in missing Kossila and Roy, as well as the expected incoming talent that has not quite made it down yet due to the injury bug also present with the Ducks, the team has struggled to ice a competitive side through their first three games.
Game 1: San Diego Gulls @ Tuscon Roadrunners
Beginning the season as they ended it, the Gulls faced down their demons and headed out on the road to play the team that eliminated them from reaching the post-season despite holding a playoff berth up until the remaining 3 games of last year.
Missing Shaw and Gazdic due to visa issues the Gulls were forced to ice a line-up that featured 11 forwards and 7 defensemen. Interestingly Sideroff was not in the line-up either.
The Gulls jumped out to an early lead
Then poured it on further on Chase De Leos first as a Gull to make it 2-0.
After Tucson got one back the Gulls were quick to answer when Jack Kopacka regained the two goal deficit with his first pro goal.
Tuscon came back again to make it 3-2, but Sam Carrick got his 2nd of the night to make it 4-2 with under four minutes left in the middle frame.
Then Tuscon scored four unanswered goals in the final period, and that was all she wrote as the game fell away from the undermanned Gulls.
Positives to take away from the game were the fact that they got 4 goals in the first place given the lack of depth currently present - as well as the play from those making their pro debuts.
Game 2: San Diego Gulls v Tuscon Roadrunners
The home opener for the Gulls saw them ice a line-up without Andy Welinski who was served a 1 game suspension for a dangerous elbow in the previous game. Simon Benoit - who was placed in a 7th defender role for the previous game; was instantly thrust into big minutes as he took Welinski’s place - paired with Jacob Larsson. Sideroff, Shaw and newly added Pontus Aberg were also welcome new additions to the line-up.
San Diego appeared to have opening night jitters and were thoroughly outplayed in the first period - lucky to be down by only one goal after the first twenty minutes. As the second frame began they appeared to hold onto possession and were able to generate a few chances - but ultimately some mental lapses in their own zone lead to two quick Tuscon goals and they quickly found themselves in a 3-0 hole.
Somebody needed to step up to stem the flow, and that somebody was Logan Shaw - with 8.42 left in the period he took a loose puck near the left boards and fired it across to Aberg who calmly put it top corner on his back-hand to get the crowd alive and swing some momentum back.
Simon Benoit did all that he could to endear himself to both the local fan-base and his coach by playing out of his skin for the entire game. He took full advantage of the extra minutes he was given and made damn sure that Eakins will have a tough decision to make when Welinski comes back. Oh yeah and he did stuff like this.
The Road-Runners staved off the Gulls for the remainder of the 2nd period but the Gulls held most of the possession and the ice was slowly but surely tilting in San Diego's favor.
After spending almost the entire period with sustained pressure in the Tucson zone, the Gulls finally made it a one goal game when Mitch Hults took a pass off the boards from Larsson and fired it from the top of the right circle - deftly tipped by Sam Carrick on the way to get the Gulls to 3-2. Carrick has stormed out as the team’s leading scorer in Kossila’s absence - with 4 points in 2 games he is also 10th overall in AHL scoring.
With under two minutes to go, Kevin Boyle made sure to keep San Diego in it when he turned aside the speeding Michael Bunting on a breakaway, and Logan Shaw almost managed to get the tying goal through sheer power of will, but alas the visitors held on for the win and the Gulls early mental lapses came back to haunt them.
Positives to take from this game - after giving up 3 goals it was all Gulls for the rest of the affair, and by game’s end shots were 44 to 32 in favor of the home team. If you remember- getting out-shot badly was something the Gulls loved to do and did so on a regular basis last season.
Game 3: San Diego Gulls @ Ontario Reign
With Andy Welinski returning from a 1 game suspension it meant someone had to sit, and that someone was .. Steve Oleksy? OK.. yep moving on.
The game was pretty even going early on with both teams trading chances until a failed breakout lead to an outnumbered opportunity down low, and veteran Matt Moulson found Sheldon Rempal for the early Reign lead.
Less than a minute later a nice area pass from Corey Tropp was deftly deflected in by Sam Carrick for his 4th goal in 3 games.
Less than four minutes later after a net-front scuffle that resulted in matching minors for, (noted shithead) McDermid and Blandisi (with an additional 2 for slashing on McDermid served by Morrison) the Gulls capitalized on the ensuing power play after some nice puck movement in the Reign zone. Using Fiore, Shaw and Aberg up front with De Leo and Welinski on the points, the Gulls seemed to overload down low before passing back to the open point. The shot from Welinski produced a huge rebound among the traffic in front which was neatly put home by Shaw for his first of the season.
Less than three minutes later, Josh Mahura made an excellent play to anticipate and break up a Reign zone entry before quickly feeding Chase De Leo who sped in with Giovanni Fiore on an odd man rush. His precision pass was perfectly one-timed by Fiore for his first of the season and the two goal lead.
A minute and a half later the Gulls appeared to still be in control, until a broken down play resulted in a a loose puck bouncing off a defender to Brad Morrison who put a shot through Coreau.
With three minutes left in the period Jack Kopacka made a beautiful pass from behind the net to Aberg out front whose one-timer was denied by Cal Peterson.
The period ended with the Gulls controlling play for stretches, but being out-shot overall 16-12.
Just over a minute into the middle frame, the Reign won a face-off in the Gulls’ zone and a point shot that went wide was vastly overplayed by Coreau, who found himself massively out of position, while the speedy Eyssimont raced around the net and quickly tucked in the easy wrap-around to tie the game.
But less than a minute later a great play by Ben Thomson to strip the puck from a Reign player at center ice lead to a 2-on-1 break with Andy Welinski, Thomson’s low hard shot produced the perfect rebound for Welinski and he restored the one goal lead.
San Diego killed off a Reign man advantage later in the period when Sam Carrick was assessed the lone roughing penalty during another scrum. The Reign got another power-play five minutes later, but this was cut short when they were assessed a two-many-men penalty a minute into it. The Gulls’ puck possession and speed during the ensuing four-on-four resulted in another call against the Reign, and San Diego ventured onto an abbreviated five-on-three.
Ontario killed both of these penalties as the Gulls were too patient and/or appeared perplexed with how best to execute.
San Diego received yet another power play when Jamie Devane (who appears to be McDermid 2.0) leveled Corey Tropp on his way to bench, with the puck no where in sight. The Gulls converted with the man-advantage for the second time that night when Welinski hammered home a one-timer from the point for his second of the game. The period ended with San Diego leading 5-3 and still being out-shot 15-13.
Back to back delay of game penalties incurred in the final second of the middle frame, and 13 seconds into the third, put the Gulls at a 3 on 5 disadvantage for an almost complete two minutes and the Reign quickly converted via Matt Moulson on an easy back-door play.
The Gulls were able to kill the remaining penalty and were able to regain control of the play for the next five minutes until the Reign put one by Coreau on a seemingly harmless cycle that resulted in a broken play and the tying goal.
With 7:49 remaining the Reign were assessed a double minor when Moulson drew blood with a high check on Aberg but the Gulls were unable to convert on the 4 minute man advantage. The Reign controlled play for the remainder of regulation but Coreau turned aside numerous chances. With less than a minute to play Jack Kopacka had to leave the ice as it seemed he caught somebody's skate inadvertedly on his wrist as he fell near the boards by the Reign bench - a particularly scary moment to end regulation.
OT started with De Leo, Aberg and Welinski - the Reign controlled play and possession for the first 30 seconds until Pontus Aberg took a tripping penalty as he was beaten with speed by Rempal coming into the Gulls zone. San Diego were able to kill the penalty and had multiple opportunities to win it in the final minute through Blandisi and Aberg but were unable to beat Peterson.
On to the shootout.
Coreau was unable to stop Rempal on the first shootout attempt
Carrick responded to tie it for the Gulls.
Coreau stopped the next shot.
Aberg was unable to convert for the Gulls 2nd round
Coreau made an easy save on the Reigns 3rd round shooter.
And Chase De Leo was the hero as he swung in from the right with speed and put it by Peterson with a very hard and well placed wrist shot.
News and Observations:
So in total the Gulls have signed 5 PTOs to cover for the lack of forward depth/experience due to the injuries in Anaheim.
Logan Shaw: It’s great to see him back, because I think a lot of Ducks fans were sad to see him go last year. He was trying out with the Flames but did not make the team, and so rather than go to Stockton he came to San Diego. He has something to prove, and I hope he becomes this year’s Eric Fehr story - except without the being traded at the deadline part.
Luke Gazdic: If Shaw is this year’s Eric Fehr, then Gazdic would be the Ryan White. Gritty, grinding forward, grizzled veteran type.
Peter Sivak: A 36(!) year old right shooting winger who split time between the Grizzlies and the Rush in the ECHL last season. He is signed to the Tulsa Oilers but is with the Gulls on a PTO. He had 61 points in 62 games in the ECHL last year.
Ryan Tesink: 25 year old left shooting winger originally drafted by the Blues in the 6th round of the 2011 draft. Just two picks after Josh Manson. He had 25 points in 49 games in the ECHL last season, but has previously played on a memorial cup winning CHL team, and had 13 points in 14 playoff games in his final season in the Q. Much like Sivak, I am not entirely sure when he is going to get into the line-up, but I guess it doesn’t hurt to have extra bodies on hand in case things go south suddenly like they did last year.
Jake Marchment: 2014 6th rounder for the Kings - the 6’3” 205lb center saw time between the Grizzlies and Eagles last year in the ECHL. He got in the line-up for the season opener when the Gulls were short on bodies due to immigration issues affecting Shaw and Gazdic but has not seen another game since.
Scratches & Reassignments
Tyler Soy: Speaking of Marchment and a lack of bodies - the fact that he made it into the line-up over the younger and speedier Soy is a bit of a concern. Tyler Soy is yet to see a game this season, and that season opener was a great opportunity; however, given recent call-ups - he could make it in over the next few games coming up- but more on that later...
Steve Oleksy: With Andy Welinski returning to the line-up from a 1 game suspension, it was Oleksy that was the odd-man out in the Gulls’ most recent game against the Reign. An interesting call made by coach Eakins - but likely not a permanent one. With only a small number of preseason games - he is likely still tinkering with the pairings to start. Benoit did deserve the bigger minutes but I felt it was Keaton Thompson that probably needed to sit.
Terrance Amorosa: The Clarkson University signing who had an average showing at rookie camp has been lent to the Tulsa Oilers of the ECHL. He has 1 assist through 2 games thus far.
Scott Moldenhauer: As with Amorosa, Moldenhauer has also been lent to the Oilers in the ECHL. He has 2 assists in 2 games.
Chris Forney: You guessed it, Forney is also in Tulsa but has 0 points in 2 games. So essentially half of the ECHL Oilers 6 active blueliners are Gulls excess depth.
Recalls and Injuries
As previously mentioned - the Gulls - much like their parent club - have a number of scorers missing to start the year due to injury. They also just lost another forward to injury, while the Ducks just lost another two - prompting another two forwards to be called up.
Kalle Kossila: As reported earlier in September, Kossila underwent hip surgery and will be out until Thanksgiving at the earliest. Hope to see you in another month, Kalle!
Max Jones: Suffered a hand injury during a scrimmage at the prospect camp in July and was reported in September to be out until October 15th - which was a few days ago; so he should be showing up any day now.....
Kevin Roy: Suffered an undisclosed upper body injury during a pre-season camp scrimmage, and since then we have had no word on him whatsoever. Stephens has replied to my enquiry that the last time he saw him he was wearing a cast - so he may be out longer than originally thought.
Jack Kopacka: Kopacka started the year out strong and was seeing first line minutes with the Gulls, playing alongside Aberg and Shaw in the most recent tilt with the Reign, but then a freak incident with an opposing players skate saw Kopacka need to leave the ice under urgency. He has since been listed as out with a lacerated wrist. A terrible start to the kids pro-career, and a very scary injury to begin it with. Here is hoping he is able to recover quickly and without it affecting his game.
Joe Blandisi: Blandisi seems to be this year’s Shea Theodore given the amount of times he has been listed on the recall-and-then-dropped daily transactions register. He is also not generally waiver eligible, but technically is at the moment because he managed to pass through waivers at the start of the season. He will remain exempt so long as he does not play 10 or more NHL games or stays on the Ducks roster for longer than 30 days (which possibly also explains bouncing him up and down). Blandisi has been recalled before the Ducks next game to cover for the injured Carter Rowney. He has two assists through three games with the Gulls thus far.
Chase De Leo: De Leo was one of the later cuts and has impressed in the early goings with his speed. He has the exact same waiver status situation as Blandisi and has been recalled as injury cover for Jakob Silfverberg. The La Mirada native has four points in three games with one goal and three assists. UPDATE: He has just be returned to the Gulls without seeing NHL action.
As reported yesterday, the Ducks have signed controversial defenceman Jake Dotchin as well as RFA holdout Nick Ritchie. Dotchin was immediately placed on waivers so it is expected that he will play with the Gulls this weekend and until he is NHL game ready. Because he is a right-shot I am assuming this means that poor Simon Benoit is the odd man out - given they wouldn't scratch newly minted captain Jaycob Megna and Andy Welinski is too important to the power-play. But I believe this will only be a temporary assignment and that Dotchin will eventually be called up to the Ducks to be paired with Marcus Petersson on the 3rd pairing.
The re-addition of Ritchie should mean the Gulls receive back at least one forward and Eric Stephens has hinted that Isac Lundestrom is not out of the question.
Breaking News Part Two!
The #NHLDucks have traded Mitch Hults to the Tampa Bays for future considerations. Hults had been playing with San Diego of the AHL.— Elliott Teaford (@ElliottTeaford) October 18, 2018
The Ducks have just traded Mitch Hults to the Tampa Bay Lightning for future considerations. Hults had been playing relatively well to start the season and has 1 assist in 2 games playing on a line with Dostie and Thomson. One can only assume this is the Ducks attempting to make room for the small cavalry of forwards soon to be sent down as it has been reported Kase could be medically cleared soon, Carter Rowney is close and Getzlaf is day to day.
Standings and Next Up
The Gulls currently sit bottom of the Pacific through 3 games played and are 25th in the league overall. Sam Carrick leads the team with 5 points in 3 games and is 31st overall in scoring.
Next up is a weekend home-stand facing the Milwaukee Admirals (Nashville) and the Bakersfield Condors (Edmonton).