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Meanwhile On The Farm: The Upside Down

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While the Ducks have been unable to buy a win, the Gulls are a seemingly unstoppable force.

The Gulls celebrate their most recent victory over the Texas Stars
San Diego Gulls

Since our last update the Gulls have continued rolling, picking up eight straight wins and have extended their point streak to fifteen straight games. Corey Tropp has returned from injury and the parent club Ducks have shaken things up by moving players from both their own and the Gulls’ roster but San Diego appears to be on an unshakable positive trajectory.

San Diego Gulls v San Jose Baracuda

With Kossila, Sideroff, Tropp and Kopacka still inured, Dallas Eakins elected to insert new PTO Johno May into the line up, making McParland a healthy scratch. May was put on a line with Carrick and Jones.

The Barracuda held the shot advantage and a narrow lead in chances until an unlucky bounce in the last four minutes led to an easy tap in for San Jose and the lead.

Just as the Barracuda appeared to have another clear cut opportunity, their open man blew a tyre and the Gulls came back the other way on a three on one - a back and forth passing play between Steel, Blandisi and Terry eventually led to a nice top shelf goal from the recently named All Star to even things up just as the period ended.

The second period started slow, but soon opened up with San Diego seeing multiple high danger chances, including a breakaway from Ben Thomson but he could not fool the Cuda net-minder at the finish.

After some hard hitting from Ben Thomson and Adam Cracknell it was the latter that found space- coming down the left wing where he fired a hard shot blocker-side past the San Jose goaltender for the 2-1 lead.

San Diego poured it on from there and grabbed a two-goal lead less than three minutes into the final period. A nice pass from the point into the slot met a wide open Troy Terry cutting across who then deeked the goaltender out of his way to slide in a very pretty goal, his second of the night.

San Diego continued to pressure, and namely Jo Blandisi kept up his relentless buzzing around the ice, forcing turnovers, feeding Terry and having one of his strongest games of the season, but a tripping minor assessed to Trevor Murphy put the Gulls down a man with just under thirteen minutes remaining.

The Gulls were able to kill off the penalty, but the resulting momentum allowed San Jose to make inroads in the Gulls’ zone, getting several chances including that one Kevin Boyle was some how able to keep out while doing snow angels in desperation. The Baracuda were awarded another penalty on the very next shift on a dubious call when Sam Carrick’s stick was held, but the officials deemed his response as roughing.

On the resulting offensive zone faceoff the Baracuda set up on the man advantage, set the screen, and hammered home a one-timer that Boyle had no chance at seeing to bring the score to three to two with just under seven minutes remaining.

San Jose continued to pressure but proved a tad overzealous in doing so as Trevor Murphy drew a tripping penalty of his own coming through the neutral zone. Jo Blandisi continued his strong game by collecting a loose puck that was blocked in front from an Ondrej Sustr point shot and quickly firing it home for the 4-2 lead with three and a half minutes remaining.

San Jose pulled their goaltender with three minutes left and had one high danger chance while also putting the Gulls on the penalty kill during that span. They managed to get one by Boyle just before the buzzer sounded to end regulation, but the Gulls came away victorious once again by a score of 4-3. San Diego extended their win streak to five and their points streak to ten.

San Diego Gulls @ Ontario Reign

With the addition of Dotchin, Holzer and Ben Street from the Ducks it meant Johno May and Adam Cracknell were moved to the wing to make room in the forwards, while Sustr and Schenn sat on the blue line. The only call I find questionable there is sitting Schenn and possibly not Thompson, but perhaps that was a ‘total vets allowed’ rule thing.

San Diego had the better of the chances to begin with but an interference penalty on Cracknell allowed the Ontario power play to get some good looks on Boyle and the 2nd year pro made some huge stops during the disadvantage as his defence uselessly waved their sticks in too-large passing lanes.

San Diego killed the penalty, and in turn had their own multiple attempts with the man advantage,but failed to convert on the two opportunities awarded to them during the first period. With the addition of Street, both units were changed up with Street put on the point with Megna on the second unit.

With less than a minute left in the opening period, the Blandisi line finally got one by Budaj when Troy Terry intercepted a pass near the right hash mark, stick handled toward Budaj and then fed the puck to Steel at the back post who potted it in for the lead.

San Diego would add another less than twenty seconds into the middle frame when a potential icing was negated by good hustle from Jones who then won the puck back to Carrick who bought some time on the off-wall and dished a no-look pass to Jones in the high slot that the former London Knight one-timed home for the 2-0 lead.

The Gulls piled it on from there, getting chances from both the Jones and Blandisi lines as well as one opportunity from Gazinc and Dostie. They also had another powerplay and at the 11:29 mark managed to have a full-minuted thirty-five of a five-on-three advantage when noted shithead Kurtis McDermid took a penalty during the penalty kill assessed to Matt Moulson for slashing Sam Steel’s stick in half.

They had one huge chance down low as Adam Cracknell seemingly had a wide open net with a rebound just sitting there, but Petr Budaj somehow managed to get across in time to make the stop. Kevin Boyle, not to be outdone, made a similar post to post save on a shorthanded chance just seconds later. Budaj made several more huge saves as the Gulls continued to pressure.

With five minutes left, Adam Cracknell was assessed a tripping penalty as he missed a pokecheck and took out the Reign forward Morrison coming through the neutral zone and the Reign struck with the man advantage to make it 2-1.

Ontario carried momentum for much of the rest of the period, but San Diego held firm on good defensive plays from both returned Dotchin and Holzer and the period ended 2-1.

The Gulls were determined to take things into their own hands as the third started and they did just that; peppering Budaj with shots. Sam Carrick eventually getting one through on a rebound to make it 3-1.

The Reign appeared to be skating through quicksand as the Gulls stifled any form of attack and, as per the norm, they unleashed their frustrations. Noted shithead Kurtis McDermid slashing Chase De Leo and getting caught doing so to send the Gulls to the man advantage. Troy Terry wasted no time taking the puck on the right hash marks and firing it high glove side on a hard wrist shot to extend the lead to 4-1 with just over six minutes remaining.

From there San Diego put on a clinic, eventually only allowing two shots on Boyle for the entire period (dubious, I counted maybe four) and the game ended with noted shithead McDermid finishing a check on Dotchin and Luke Gazdic (who was still feeling the effects of a shot block just seconds before) going after him at the buzzer. Perhaps telling of the difference between the two teams morale: the entire Gulls’ bench was on the ice to break up the skirmish, while only six or seven Reign stood around, with the exception of McDermid and Imama trying to start things.

San Diego extended their win streak to six games and their points streak to eleven.

San Diego Gulls @ Stockton Heat

No Mahura (but it was later mentioned in the broadcast that he was a scratch) despite being sent down and at the same time as Street - who did make it into the line up. Korbinian Holzer also made his second straight appearance while Luke Schenn was reinserted back into the line-up with the recall of Dotchin.

Game began with a lot of open ice and good flow . The Gulls jumped on an opening early when Troy Terry smoothly took a pass from Blandisi behind the goal line and fed Sam Steel in front who wasted no time roofing it high glove side just 18:34 in.

The heat hit back two minutes later when Boyle was unable to completely cover a rebound as he dove forward to grab it.

Matt Berry had a breakaway just before the midway mark as he was the benefactor of a smart alley-oop pass but hit the post.

Soon after killing a penalty to Jo Blandisi, the Gulls had their own chance to score with the man advantage when Troy Terry drew a hooking penalty cutting across the circles. The Gulls power play unit kept possession and kept the Heat guessing until a seam opened up that Korbinian Holzer wired through traffic for the 2-1 lead and his first of the season.

With under five minutes left the Heat caught a lucky bounce when a shot from the point that was going wide appeared to hit off the back leg of Korbinian Holzer and passed Kevin Boyle to tie things up once again.

Stockton rode the momentum of the game tying goal by immediately getting into the San Diego zone on the very next shift, executing a give and go play off the right boards before firing a perfect shot by Boyle to take the lead.

The Heat controlled play for the remainder of the opening period but for one opportunity afforded to Ben Street and San Diego went into the first intermission down by one after a period that they probably should have a better outcome from.

The beginning of the second saw the Gulls pressuring early and they were rewarded by a follow up from Korbinian Holzer, his second of the night. The thirty year old German defender accepted a perfect drop pass at the top of the circles and ripped it over the right shoulder of Gillies to tie things back up. This was the culmination of back to back great shifts in the Heat zone.

Moments later Alex Dostie took a penalty for hooking but a Heat fumble at the blue line led to an Adam Cracknell breakaway who forced a hard shot through the five hole of Trevor Gillies to score short handed and take the lead once again.

The Heat went straight back to the attack, hounding the Gulls and gaining momentum with increased zone time, forcing Boyle to make some spectacular saves before eventually drawing a call on Benoit. The Gulls penalty kill could not come through however and Stockon struck once again to tie it up.

Scores remained tied for the rest of the middle frame but not for lack of trying - both teams exchanged opportunities and the hitting began to pick up. Simon Benoit plastering a Stockon player against the glass in the Gulls zone followed by Troy Terry getting caught with his head down in front of the Heat net and being sent flying (thankfully there wasnt any head contact on the hit).

The third was a little untidy to begin and we approached the midway point with scores still level despite the teams exchanging power plays. It should be noted that the fourth line of Dostie, Thomson and newcomer Jared Thomas appeared to be used sparingly up to this point. With just under nine minutes left Max Jones drew another penalty but the Heat were able to kill the minor.

With under two minutes left in regulation and with scores still tied, it looked like both teams might stubbornly claw their way to an overtime session. But an odd man zone entry between Adam Cracknell and Chase De Leo ended in a De Leo scoring his eigth of the year to take the lead from a beautiful slap-pass fake-shot feed from Cracknell.

Clearly the directive from Eakins was to finish it as the Gulls came right back into the Heat zone off the center ice face-off, winning puck battles and throwing it on net until Sam Carrick got to a loose puck in front to send home a rebound to pad the lead at two.

The heat pulled their netminder with just over a minute left and it didnt take long for Jo Blandisi to get to a loose puck and throw it in for the empty net goal. Finishing the game off at 7-4, giving Dallas Eakins the most wins as a Ducks affiliate head coach.

San Diego Gulls @ Milwaukee Admirals

Looking for their 8th straight win and 13th straight point the Gulls stuck with the same line up with the exception of swapping Josh Mahura for Keaton Thompson. It should also be noted that this was Trevor Murphy’s first time back in the building of the team he began his pro career with.

San Diego began the period shakey and a blue line turnover led to a two on none breakaway for the Admirals. Kevin Boyle bit on the initial backhand fake and was left in no man’s land for the easy put in. 1-0 Admirals.

The Gulls answered right back courtesy of Troy Terry finishing off a missed shot that bounced fortuitively to him at the side of the net as he and Sam Steel flew in on a two-on-one off of a nice pass from Simon Benoit.

The game clamped down briefly as both teams attempted to stifle neutral zone play but slowly began to open up again. San Diego got chances mainly by the Steel line (including some very sweet moves from Terry) and the Admirals attempted to send a cherry picking forward behind the Gulls defense. But San Diego would get the second strike off the back off some good pressure from the Steel line that was followed up by the Carrick line. With the man in question getting his twentieth off of a very nice pass from Josh Mahura on the wing.

The period ended with San Diego enjoying but as yet unable to convert on the man advantage as Max Jones was slashed on a breakaway with less than two minutes left.

Milwaukee kept the Gulls on their heels for much of the second and managed to tie things up on the power play when Max Jones was called for a very weak slashing penalty, Blackwell getting his second of the night off a feed in the slot that broke the Gulls penalty killing box.

But the Gulls struck right back once again, Max Jones led the charge on the very next shift, winning a puck battle down low and feeding Matt Berry in the slot to retake the lead.

San Diego kept up the pressure and tilted the ice in their favour, breaking up plays and generating out numbered rushes. Their hard work was rewarded with an Adam Cracknell goal from near side the net as he batted in a rebound out of midair over the glove of the Admirals goaltender. Luke Schenn had fired the shot from the point that caused the aerial opportunity.

The Gulls kept right at it, bullying and essentially having their way with the Admirals who attempted to get some form of spark back by starting a small scuffle with Korbinian Holzer but on the very next face-off a Gulls attack and shot through traffic bounced around and eventually got by the Admirals netminder. The goal was eventually given to Jones after it was deemed that his stick touched it last.

The rest of the game did not see any further scoring and although the Admirals did creep up in the possession and shots stakes, the Gulls frustrated the home team and kept their high danger chances to an absolute minimum. I think I could remember maybe only one great save that Boyle was forced to make throughout the rest of the remaining twenty three minutes. San Diego took the win with a final score of five to two to extend their points streak to thirteen games. The longest in club history.

San Diego Gulls @ Iowa Wild

Line-ups remained the same except for the curious decision to put Keaton Thompson on the wing of the fourth line (Jared Thomas sat). No further update on injuries to Sideroff, Kossila, Tropp, Kopacka and Roy.

San Diego took it to the Wild to start, enjoying the majority of the start of the period in their zone. But the Wild found themselves on the Power Play when Simon Benoit was forced to hook a streaking forward whose speed had given him the inside lane. Things were made worse when Jo Blandisi was assessed an additional hooking penalty on the far boards during a puck battle, giving the Wild a minute of five on three. The unit of Megna, Holzer and Carrick kept Iowa at bay - preventing a decent shooting lane on Boyle and Benoit exited the box, the Gulls then carried that momentum to kill the remaining penalty with Boyle hardly being tested during that span.

The Gulls went right back to pressuring the Wild and keeping play in their zone for multi shift stretches at a time while allowing the odd drive and perimter shot on Boyle. Ben Street had a decent chance off of an individual play - the former Calder Cup winner had been quiet to start but has been coming on over the last two games.

The period ended without a tally and the Gulls outshooting the Wild 13 to 11.

The middle frame did not have a heck of a lot of action until Sam Steel came a finger tip close to opening the scoring when his shot was deflected thirty feet in the air and eventually fell behind the Wild goaltender Kahkonen who reacted in just in time to turn around and grab it before it could cross the line.

Soon after the Gulls were given their first power play of the game when Jo Blandisi was hauled down in the Wild zone. But the Wild capitalised on some sloppy passing and were able to force yet another breakaway - this time getting it by Boyle to take the lead a few minutes after the midway point of the period.

With the Gulls pulling Boyle for the extra attacker during a delayed penalty call Troy Terry got absolutely leveled as he came through the Wild zone and a small fracas broke out as Blandisi went to his aid. The Wild were served an additional minor - presumably for the hit and the Gulls went on a rare full two minute five on three. The first unit attempted to get passes through and take the play in close but the Wild were relentless and thwarted them every time they got close, with forty minutes left with the man advantage the second unit came on and once set up - got the puck back to Trevor Murphy. The former Roadrunner wound up and blasted a shot past Kahkonen to tie the game.

The middle frame ended with scores level and the third began with frenetic action from both teams but it would be the Wild who would strike just before midway point on a bad bounce that lead to an odd man rush; Boyle was not equal to the shot that came from a cross ice pass and the Wild took back the lead.

With two minutes left and with the Wild still holding the one goal lead Dallas Eakins pulled Boyle for the extra attacker. San Diego played keep away for the entire two minutes, only giving up the one opportunity to the Wild but Trevor Murphy was in the perfect position back to block it. The Wild finally incurred an icing infraction with less than twenty seconds left and San Diego pounced, winning the faceoff and desperately keeping the puck in play around the Wild net - eventually a bounce fell to Chase De Leo who fed a backhand spinorama pass to Adam Cracknell to the left side for the game tying score with just six seconds left.

San Diego began the overtime session well but a missed penalty that should have been called for holding the stick on Troy Terry contributed to a bad change for the Gulls and the Wild came in with speed to fire a shot by Boyle to break the Gulls win streak, San Diego did extend their points streak to thirteen straight games by virtue of Adam Cracknells game tying goal.

San Diego Gulls vs Texas Stars

On the day Pontus Aberg was traded for Justin Kloos (who featured in the Gulls most recent game against the Wild) the Ducks also made a flurry of movements prior to this game. Calling up Max Jones, Troy Terry and Sustr while sending down Kiefer Sherwood, Jake Dotchin and assigning Patrick Eaves on a long term conditioning loan.

San Diego ran play for much of the first, the Stars had some opportunities but kept shooting high and missing the net entirely. Kiefer Sherwood had a good chance at the midway point - getting open for a brief moment inbetween the hashmarks but his wrist shot was stopped. With seven minutes remaining Ben Street gained the zone with speed, drew the defense and dished to Holzer on the right side. The veteran defender sent a hard shot that beat the Texas goaltender Bow but hit the post. Alex Dostie also had a good chance as he accepted a pass through the neutral zone with speed but his shot was just a tad too low on the glove side. He drew a penalty on the play as he was slashed at the moment of truth.

The Gulls appeared to be missing the presence of Terry and Jones on the man advantage as they seemed to be looking around for someone to be the play maker or be the man to take it into traffic. Some calm and patient passing did eventually lead to a cross-ice pass from Cracknell to Tropp who put in an easy goal to the wide open net to take the lead.

San Diego continued to dictate play - allowing the odd rush from the Stars into their zone but never any sustained possession time. Matt Berry was forced to take a slashing call when he prevented a clear shot from the trailing winger on a Texas two on one and on the ensuing penalty kill Sam Steel broke up a pass and came in with Adam Cracknell, feeding the veteran for a two to zip lead.

San Diego kept up their momentum early in the middle frame, thanks in most part to the Dostie line. Eakins rewarded them with an additional shift within the first three minutes because they single handledly controlled play with hustle and tenacity on the forecheck.

Texas began to shift things as time went on, getting some point blank opportunites on Boyle that he was equal to while also being thankful to his posts.

With five minutes left in the middle frame Simon Benoit fumbled a puck at the blue line and was forced to take a holding call to prevent a clear cut scoring chance. The Texas Stars got one back with the man advantage - potting in a rebound of a shot that changed direction on Boyle.

Three and a half minutes into the third the Stars were awarded a power play on a dubious double minor occured when Mahura attempted to swat a puck away as it was falling near the Gulls net - on the replay he appeared to hit the Texas players stick which then swung up and hit him in the face; drawing blood in the process.

The Gulls were able to kill the extended disadvantage thanks in part to some strong blocks from Korbinian Holzer and Ben Street as well as a strong effort from all three iterations of the penalty killing unit.

Texas kept pressing for much of the rest of the third but the San Diego defense played perhaps their best game of the season. It should be noted that Jake Dotchin appeared to be playing with a massive chip on his shoulder, attempting to start a fight with anybody that might be willing.

With under two minutes left the Texas Stars pulled their goaltender and kept the Gulls hemmed but San Diego were able to relieve pressure with sporadic icings. Patrick Eaves attempted to hit the empty net with a shot taken from his own goal line but missed by inches.

The Gulls came out 2-1 winners and extended their points streak to fourteen games.

News and Observations:

Club Records

In the midst of this most recent streak the Gulls have set club records for both win streaks (with eight) and points streak (with fifteen and still counting). They also have a league high 125 transactions (even more now thanks to Bobs recent Thanos-style finger snap trades of the last week). The Gulls have not lost a game in regulation since Saturday December the 8th.

BobThanos Finger Snaps: Half the Ducks/Gulls roster fades away

In case you have been hiding under a rock. GM BobThanos finally had enough and made a string of moves in the last week; which breaks down as follows:

Andrew Cogliano to the Stars for Devon Shore

Pontus Aberg to the Wild for Justin Kloos

Luke Schenn and 2020 7th rounder to the Canucks for Michael Del Zotto

Jo Blandisi to the Penguins for Derek Grant

Max Jones recalled to Ducks

Troy Terry recalled to Ducks

Ondrej Sustr recalled to Ducks

Kiefer Sherwood re-assigned from Ducks

Jake Dotchin re-assigned from Ducks

Patrick Eaves assigned on long term conditioning loan

Losing Jones and Terry hurts a lot, as does losing Blandisi in quite simply the stupidest trade Murray has made in the last year (Can’t sign the guy you had the rights to so you acquire him later in the next season via trade for a guy you had RFA rights to??) however I think the Gulls will be able to not only survive this - but continue their strong play.

Kloos was the leading scorer on the Wild and as I pointed out in the trade announcement article - is another University of Minnesota product - making that four in the Ducks organization now. He will likely take Blandisi’s spot in the lineup so as of right now the lines look like.

Gold = Rookie. Orange = Injured.

They are going to have to hope that Sideroff or Kossila is back soon because Eaves can only spend fourteen days in San Diego and I am guessing the Ducks will call Street back up soon to cover the final forward spot.

Who Will Step Up?

As noted; Jones and Terry will leave big voids in the Gulls line-up but I still believe they can get through this. In the most recent game without the dynamic duo the team as a whole played well but the players that stood out the most to me were Alex Dostie and Sam Steel. It has been speculated that Steel will get the next recall but I believe Murray is reluctant to commit to that many rookies in the starting lineup. It will likely be Street or Carrick to make the trip up next.

Dostie was flying around the ice against the Stars - if ever there was a time for the second year pro out of Quebec to step up, its now.

Gulls Drinking Experience

I promised @KROQChip I would do this - given she made one for the Ducks; so here it is:

Please drink responsibly

Next Up!

Its Star Wars night! Featuring the Bakersfield Condors on Saturday - 7pm. Then off on the road yet again to face the Reign (Mon 3pm), Rampage (Fri 5:30pm) and rounding out January with the Stars again on Saturday the 26th at 5:00pm.