It has been a busy week for the Gulls - not only did they lose two very close decisions to division rivals but they also saw a lot of roster activity as players on both the parent club and in San Diego returned from injury.
San Diego Gulls vs Stockton Heat
In Kalle Kossilas surprise early return to the line up it was a positive start as San Diego drew a penalty early and had several chances - including a perfect pass from Terry to a streaking Kossila - but were unable to convert; even when Troy Terry was tripped for a brief 5 on 3 advantage.
Just before the midway point of the first period an innocent play resulted in the opening goal for Stockton as former-Gull Scott Sabourin blasted a slap shot from the blue line and caught Boyle off guard; who likely assumed it would just be a dump in.
A minute later Jaycob Megna took a silly holding penalty as he was caught pinching and lost his stick on the same play. Stockton converted on the power play off a face-off win and a blocked shot that ricocheted to the left of Boyle where the Heat had an easy shot past the out-of-position 2nd year netminder.
A few minutes later, with the 2018 version of the NHL line (Tropp, Carrick and Thomson) caught up ice on a turnover, the Heat came back with numbers to setup an easy cross ice pass on the rush which was fired by a struggling Boyle.
With four minutes left in the period the Heat converted again with the man advantage with Max Jones serving a penalty for an elbow.
After twenty minutes it felt like Josh Mahura was by far the best player on the ice for the Gulls - he was consistently breaking out with ease and getting zone entries with his silky smooth skating.
Jared Correau relieved Boyle to start the middle frame and the action was balanced but slightly frenetic until Luke Gaznic got the Gulls on the board with a rush accompanied by Dostie and Sideroff- he looked them off before shooting a hard wrister by the Stockton netminder.
Two minutes later Larsson almost got in a fight after a Gulls defensive zone draw and subsequent Correau save. In the same fracas Curtis Lazar showed incredible bravery by dropping his gloves and then refusing to fight Sam Carrick, the Gulls went down a man owing to Larsson starting the hostilities.
San Diego killed the penalty but a tired Giovanni Fiore sent a backhander over the glass as the Gulls failed to clear the Stockton pressure and sent his team right back to the PK.
With the Gulls gaining momentum thanks to back to back kills Deven Sideroff intercepted a pass behind the Stockton net and fed Luke Gaznic for his 2nd of the night at the 8.40 mark of the middle frame.
On the ensuing shift San Diego drew a penalty via some good work by Troy Terry off the half-wall but squandered the power play as well as giving up a dangerous short-handed chance that Correau was equal to. The second period ended with the Gulls getting hemmed in late and grateful to hear the buzzer.
Four minutes into the third, a double face-off violation gave the Gulls a power play and Giovanni Fiore fired home a bullet from just above the right face off circle on a set play one timer.
Just over a minute later on another powerplay thanks to a holding penalty drawn by Ben Thomson. Kalle Kossila fired a shot from the slot (off a beautiful pass from Corey Tropp near the point) for the game tying goal.
With four and a half minutes left, and after some inspiring work in the Stockton zone, the Gulls appeared to have scored the go-ahead goal, but it was called back immediately and it was revealed Corey Tropp punched the puck in with his hand. Jake Dotchin attempted a lob pass up from his own zone but over-cooked it and put San Diego a man down for a delay of game penalty with 3 minutes left in the game - effectively killing all the momentum for the home team.
Partway through the OT Josh Mahura lost his stick (but still managed to catch it in the same motion), but the delay caused him to lose his man and forced Logan Shaw to slash the free Stockton player to prevent a scoring chance. The drama didn't end there though, as on the following face-off the Heat were assessed yet another face-off violation penalty and we were back to 3 on 3. There was a flurry of action on the rare (once the penalties had expired) 4-on-4 OT session and both Max Jones and Troy Terry almost ended it on sepatate chances but the score remained tied at the conclusion of five minutes.
In the shootout - Sam Carrick scored on his opportunity in the 3rd round but Stockton equalized with their final attempt. Chase De Leo finished on the next round but again Correau was unable to stop the Stockton shooter Spencer Foo. It eventually made it to the 14th round before Matt Taormina mercilessly ended it and took the win for the visitors.
San Diego Gulls vs Tucson Roadrunners
With the recall of Jacob Larsson and Andy Welinski, the door re-opened for Keaton Thompson and Steve Oleksy to come back into the line-up. It also meant breaking up the dominant Larsson and Benoit pairing. Benoit was instead paired with Dotchin.
The first period featured a lot of back and forth play, San Diego played conservative in their own zone - bodying up on the Tuscon forwards and quickly taking away space. The Roadrunners had a few opportunities on intercepts with their fore-check. Dotchin in particular stood out with his ability to defuse the Tuscon offense and get pucks moving back up ice.
With seven minutes left in the period, the Kossila line stormed into the Tuscon zone and Troy Terry flipped a perfect no-look pass to Kossila to get the easy opener, but the ref waved it off - claiming that Max Jones impeded the Tuscon goaltender.
The teams traded power-plays late in the period, but the period ended scoreless with the visitors out-shooting the hosts 12-10.
A minute and a half into the middle frame San Diego scored on the power play when Kalle Kossila collected a nifty pass from Mahura on the left wall and fired in the games opening goal, his second in as many games.
Just past the halfway point of the period the Gulls won a defensive zone face-off but Steve Oleksy turned the puck over down low and the Roadrunners quickly fed it to the slot where an uncovered David Ullstrom brought the visitors into a tie.
Play continued without too many chances for either side until the Tropp, Carrick and Thomson line got the cycle going in the Tucson zone, Ben Thomson in particular making some Getzlaf-esque turns before feeding down low to Tropp who in turn found him sliding open into the slot where he fired a one-timer past Hunter Miska for his 2nd of the year.
With just under two minutes left a Tuscon forward flew into the San Diego net and Jacob Megna was called for interference on a dubious and confusing infraction. On the resulting power play the Roadrunners setup and hammered a one timer passed a screened Jared Correau to even things up.
At the 12:21 mark another miscue from Oleksy resulted in the Roadrunners getting a shot from a dangerous area and the puck deflected in for the Tuscon lead.
Just after the halfway point of the final period Troy Terry carried the puck into the Tuscon zone, drew a defender and took the hit while flicking across to Kossila who made a deft toe-drag before firing a laser through the partial screen created by the move and into the net to tie things up at 3.
The visitors fought back and were relentless on the fore-check for the rest of the game, pouring on the shots and finishing the period with a 17 to 10 shot advantage, but Jared Correau stood tall and made the saves he was called upon to make to send both teams to OT and the Gulls 2nd consecutive extra time session.
Both teams traded chances on the 3 on 3 but San Diego faced adversity when another curious call went against them - this time assigned to Corey Tropp for slashing. They successfully killed the minor thanks in part to Correau and some strong play from Sam Carrick and Jake Dotchin. With less than a minute left in the session, Mahura lost his man on the boards and Chase De Leo was on the wrong side of his as the Roadrunners executed a play in the slot to end the game and send the Gulls to their second straight OT loss.
News and Observations:
Jake Dotchin saw his first action over the most recent weekend homestand and from watching his play I can see why Anaheim saw fit to risk offering him a contract. First off - the obvious: he is HUGE. No that is not a fat joke. The guy is a tank and tall, very tall. As noted in some of my game summaries above, he is great at smothering opposing team’s forwards, getting the puck and quickly moving it back up ice. In a way, he reminds me a lot of Jaycob Megna, except a lot meaner and more than willing to use his formidable frame to punish opposing forwards. He won’t be in San Diego all year (as soon as the Ducks feel he is ready I can guarantee he gets called up to take that 3rd pairing right side spot), but it is sure going to be fun watching him flatten forwards in the corners for the next month or so.
Soy sent to ECHL, Marchment released
NEWS: We've assigned center Tyler Soy to the Tulsa Oilers of the @ECHL. In addition, we've released center Jake Marchment from his professional tryout (PTO). #LetsGoGulls— San Diego Gulls (@SDGullsAHL) October 30, 2018
→ https://t.co/89vXDOgBop pic.twitter.com/lfg1KIViwy
As both the Ducks and the Gulls begin to slowly become healthy again, the re-addition of players has meant that bubble players such as Soy and Marchment have become spare parts. Hopefully Soy comes back from the ECHL eventually and goes on a tear much like Ortega did last season.
As of right now he has yet to play a game for the Oilers but their next game is Nov 3rd.
Larsson and Welinski recalled, Sustr sent down
NEWS: @AnaheimDucks have recalled defensemen Andy Welinski and Jacob Larsson from @SDGullsAHL. #NHLDucks also have reassigned defensemen Marcus Pettersson and Andrej Sustr to San Diego. #LetsGoGulls https://t.co/V3ix2K0tRG— San Diego Gulls (@SDGullsAHL) October 29, 2018
Initially Marcus Pettersson was sent down also but was recalled immediately when it was found Josh Manson would not be able to go for the Ducks. The Gulls missed Larsson and Welinski in that it meant minutes for the out-of-form Oleksy and Thompson, but hopefully Sustr can steady whomever Eakins elects to keep in the lineup (probably Thompson).
Kossila called up, Steel and Blandisi sent down
NEWS: @AnaheimDucks have recalled center Kalle Kossila and right-wing Kiefer Sherwood from @sdgullsahl.— San Diego Gulls (@SDGullsAHL) October 31, 2018
In addition, #NHLDucks have reassigned centers Joseph Blandisi and Sam Steel to San Diego. #LetsGoGulls
→ https://t.co/vOfIurYL68 pic.twitter.com/k2bmqkLj63
As mentioned, Sherwood was briefly dropped but then immediately recalled in a move that even caught me out, but was in the end likely a paper transaction. But the move that did stick was the quick call up for Kalle Kossila - who had only just played his first two games of the season before finding himself in NHL action just a few days later. This is the final year of Kossilas waiver exemption status and he has 49 (now 48) games of exemption status left.
Sam Steel has been playing well with the Ducks - going 100% on face offs on one occasion. He has 3 points in 13 games, but was appearing to start to lack in confidence much like Terry was, and the Ducks’ current losing streak is likely not a great environment for a rookie to be enjoying their first taste of NHL action. He will take Kossila’s spot to form a Gulls first line that many Ducks fans will hope to be the new wave of talent in the very near future with Terry and Jones.
Speaking of lines...
With both the Ducks and the Gulls slowly but surely getting healthy, roster spots are starting to become scarce. Marchment and Soy have become the first casualties and with the addition of Steel and re-addition of Blandisi it means a forward will have to sit. Given the Gulls next game is against the Reign - I am guessing Gazdic stays in the line-up to help provide protection for the smaller forwards. That isn’t calling out Dostie for poor play, he and Sideroff have been brilliant together - tenacious on the forecheck and causing turnovers for goals - but he is last among forwards in scoring with just the one assist through 7 games of play thus far. He will hopefully see action when San Diego faces a more speedier opponent such as the upcoming homestand with the Colorado Eagles but for now he one step above being assigned to Tulsa. Speaking of which...
Meanwhile In Tulsa/Reading
You might be wondering, Tulsa? Well the Ducks still do not have an ECHL affiliate and appear to have an agreement with the Tulsa Oilers, who also happen to be already affiliated with the Blues which makes it more than a tad confusing given when the Gulls are short they could potentially call up St Louis Blues property such as Ryan Tesink but I digress.
Scott Moldenhauer leads blueliners in scoring with 4 assists in 6 games and Terrance Amarosa sits just behind him with 3 assists.
Angus Redmond - in Reading - has played one game and has a 1.89 GAA and .939 SVS, I wish I knew why he could not also be assigned to Tulsa but I guess their goaltender quota was already full.
Sam Carrick and Corey Tropp co-lead the team in scoring with 9 points each with Troy Terry sitting in 3rd with 7. Terry’s points per game has understandably come down to a still impressive 1.75 points per game.
Keaton Thompson is a team worst -5, Chase De Leo and Steve Olesky are -4; I realise +/- isnt entirely reliable but combined with the eye-test it is clear that Thompson and Olesky have struggled mightily to start the season. De Leo is painted a tad unfair here; he has played better than this indicates.
League-wide Terry now sits 4th overall in points per game, but watch that ramp back up again with the arrival of Steel.
Kevin Boyle’s disastrous outing against Stockton has dropped him all the way down to 45th in the league for GAA with 3.91, Correau sits one place ahead with 3.87. Correau is now 24th overall in Save Percentage with a 0.910, while Boyle has dropped to 35th with 0.888. Coreau is 6th overall in shots faced with 210 through 5 games, Boyle has seen 80 through 3.
San Diego sits 5th in the Pacific with a 3-2-1-1 record through 7 games. The surprising Barracuda lead the division with the Roadrunners hot on their heels. The Eagles, Heat and Gulls are all within two points of each-other with Reign and Condors a point behind.
It’s a Saturday night journey to Ontario (and their terrible AHL TV camera setup - urgh) to face the Reign. 6pm puck drop.
Fun fact: Both Ontario goaltenders have over 4 GAA thus far. Cal Peterson has 4.52 GAA while seeing a league high 241 shots through 8 games and Peter Budaj has a whopping 6.16 GAA through 3 games - good for last in the league.