Things are definitely picking up for the Gulls in an eerily similar fashion to last year soon after they obtained Eric Fehr’s services - this year’s team appear to be repeating the exact same success thanks to Adam Cracknell, among some other key acquisitions.
San Diego Gulls vs San Jose Baracudda
San Diego had the run of play for most of the first period, coming close on several occasions as Dallas Eakins’ new line combos (still confusing to me) dominated the visiting Barracuda.
Jones came agonizingly close with under three minutes left after some great fore checking by Sideroff, but Bibeau made a desperation save on a seemingly wide open net.
Blandisi, in his first game back from injury, opened the scoring on a nice pass to free him on a semi breakaway where he shifted Bibeau and tucked it under him.
JOE BLANDISI!— San Diego Gulls (@SDGullsAHL) December 20, 2018
Finds a crease and then sneaks it in five-hole! @_themagicbullet gets his third of the season from Steel and Schenn! 1-0! #LetsGoGulls pic.twitter.com/lBKMBSLWry
San Jose drew a penalty on Blandisi just over six minutes into the middle frame, but it was the Gulls that converted as Adam Cracknell pounced on a loose puck and sped up ice with Sam Carrick on a two-on-one that was deposited past Bibeau for the 2-0 lead.
Cracknell made the smart play by taking the shot creating the rebound for Carrick to put away.
SAM CARRICK!— San Diego Gulls (@SDGullsAHL) December 20, 2018
Short handed! Cracknell shoots for a rebound, and @carrick_sam puts it home! 2-0 just over six minutes into the second! #LetsGoGulls pic.twitter.com/srqbhKFmF1
San Diego drew a penalty midway through the period but could not convert. It did not slow down their relentless attack or seemingly unsurpassed momentum.
With five and a half minutes left, Keaton Thompson was called for tripping and the Gulls finally relented under the pressure as the Cuda generated several high danger chances - converting on a rebound at the 3:50 mark.
Play opened up soon after the goal and both teams displayed a frenetic back and forth pace. The period ended with San Diego enjoying another man advantage opportunity and several scoring chances.
The opening of the third saw the ugly fish attempting to re-assert dominance and held the Gulls in their zone for minutes at a time, but San Diego eventually broke free and fought back - getting a third goal from Matt Berry who tipped a floating Megna point shot for the 3-1 lead.
MATT BERRY!— San Diego Gulls (@SDGullsAHL) December 20, 2018
Good goal, great celly! Berry tips the shot from Megna for his first of the season! De Leo gets the secondary assist and we lead, 3-1, four minutes into the third! #LetsGoGulls pic.twitter.com/Ff3LC9Tyli
With under ten minutes left, Matt Berry seemed to be channeling Max Jones’ performance from the previous game. First he blocked a shot, then bowled over the Barracuda player on route to creating a two on one. This resulted in a rebound that Chase De Leo then slammed home on a goal that required a mid-commercial-break to be deemed legit after it was missed during live action.
CHASE DE LEO!— San Diego Gulls (@SDGullsAHL) December 20, 2018
Count it! Matt Berry makes a great play, forces the loose puck and @Dels9 knocks it in! The lead is now 4-1 with 9:50 to play! #LetsGoGulls pic.twitter.com/J3z3jqBxvV
At the six minute mark, the Terry and Steel line entered the Barracuda zone with speed and Fiore fed Terry from behind the net for an easy 5-1 lead.
TROY TERRY!— San Diego Gulls (@SDGullsAHL) December 20, 2018
Makes it 5-1! @troyterry1997 gets his ninth of the season from Fiore and Steel with 5:56 to go! #LetsGoGulls pic.twitter.com/Plw3oX3hcH
Jo Blandisi saved the best till last, taking a pass off the boards from Matt Berry with speed and cutting a perfect spin move around the lone defender, before seemingly unintentionally losing the puck at the full 360-degree mark where it found its way into the Cuda net for the 6–1 lead and eventual final score. The goal would make it on the Sportscenter top ten after some lobbying from the Gulls’ Twitter account.
JOE BLANDISI!— San Diego Gulls (@SDGullsAHL) December 20, 2018
Makes it 6-1 with a FILTHY move! Two minutes left in regulation! #LetsGoGulls pic.twitter.com/Hd6DvTdgBx
San Diego vs Ontario Reign
Max Jones returned despite leaving action early in the last game due to illness and Luke Gazdic returned to the lineup at the expense of Sideroff - presumably to cover for any potential fisticuffs.
Ontario struck first as Simon Benoit pulled down a Reign player on a breakaway, scoring on the resulting power play from a point shot that found its way past a screened Boyle.
Sam Carrick tied things up two minutes later, entering the Reign zone with speed and shifting into the slot with a nice move and then flicking a backhander through Budaj on the drive-by.
SAM CARRICK!— San Diego Gulls (@SDGullsAHL) December 22, 2018
Takes it to the house for his 13th of the season! @carrick_sam from @lukegazdic, 5:58 into the opening period! 1-1! #LetsGoGulls pic.twitter.com/684bf4dWhi
Max Jones drew yet another penalty as he flew through the Reign zone - forcing noted shithead Kurtis MacDermid to slash him down. But the Reign took advantage of sloppy puck possession on the man advantage and cruised down on a two on one that Kevin Boyle played far too aggressively - leaving a wide open net for the pass. 2-1 Reign.
Another uncharacteristic mistake from Boyle almost resulted in another goal as the puck bounced away from him when he came out to play it, but Jaycob Megna saved his bacon by tying up the Reign player who had the wide open net to shoot at.
Boyle redeemed himself by making a brilliant save on a separate two on one moments later, and San Diego responded by controlling play for the remainder of the period. They appeared to potentially have an equalizer in the dying seconds, and after much deliberation and a check from Toronto, it was eventually deemed good. 2-2 Gulls heading into the second period.
LUKE SCHENN!— San Diego Gulls (@SDGullsAHL) December 22, 2018
At the buzzer! Refs take a long look, but Schenn beats the clock to tie things up, 2-2! #LetsGoGulls pic.twitter.com/ZfnF067981
Play was slightly choppy to start the second, with Kevin Boyle still looked a tad shaky in parts. Then Matt Moulson was called for hooking down Luke Schenn in the Gulls’ zone to send the Gulls to their third power play of the night. The man advantage looked completely uninspired, at one point icing it. But the first unit gained the zone on the next shift, and just as I was verbally lamenting that they appeared to have “no plan”, a Welinski shot from the point got through Budaj for the 3-2 lead.
ANDY WELINSKI!— San Diego Gulls (@SDGullsAHL) December 22, 2018
With a rocket on the power play! @shmandy7 gives us our first lead of the night, 3-2, just over 6 minutes into the second! #LetsGoGulls pic.twitter.com/Owmm8g07hD
Max Jones followed things up less than a minute later taking a pass from Carrick to the side of the net. Terry had initially fed Carrick from behind the net- another reason why Terry and Jones should never be split up.
MAX JONES!— San Diego Gulls (@SDGullsAHL) December 22, 2018
Buries the backdoor pass! @Jones_Max19 strikes for our second goal in just over a minute to give us a 4-2 lead! Carrick and Terry with the assists! #LetsGoGulls pic.twitter.com/Clq6Ot3hsE
As Ontario and Gulls games are want to do - things got very heated. Corey Tropp plastered Lintiunemi against the boards, which led to scuffles breaking out in front of the Reign net and a five minute major for Tropp.
Boyle continued to play far too aggressively, being caught out of position several times on the lengthy penalty kill , and once again needing to be rescued by his defensemen in the form of Luke Schenn blocking a shot on the goal line.
To make matters worse, Sam Carrick took an another penalty for hooking during the kill and sent the home team to a five on three. Remarkably, the Gulls managed to kill both the two man disadvantage and the major, but not without controversy, as the Reign appeared to score. But the officials immediately waved it off, stating that Boyle (again way too far out of his crease on the play) had it covered and the play was dead.
A Reign delay of game led to another San Diego power play and another apathetic performance. Leaving the Reign to intercept a bad breakout pass and go one-on-one with Boyle, who went for the poke-check and was beaten easily. 4-3 Gulls.
It was a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde game for Boyle because he then stopped a clear cut breakaway on yet another terrible Gulls power play. This time Kalle Kossila made a bad pass that was intercepted and sent to a Reign player exiting the box.
The third began with San Diego controlling play and Max Jones outplaying his check, then taking a puck around the Reign net for a wrap around that was stopped, but Sam Carrick picked up the rebound and finished the play for the 5-3 lead.
SAM CARRICK!— San Diego Gulls (@SDGullsAHL) December 22, 2018
His third point, and second goal of the night! Have a night, @carrick_sam! Jones and Gazdic get the helpers 5:54 into the third period! #LetsGoGulls pic.twitter.com/6h2jycXhS0
The rest of the third was a lesson in San Diego dominance, but it also felt like they had a hell of a lot of help from the officials. All in all the Gulls had eleven- count them, ELEVEN- power plays. By the final ten minutes you could tell the Reign felt that the ice was tilted against them in a way that wasn't entirely fair.
As a Ducks fan put: in that situation, more often than not, I actually felt sorry for them.
The Gulls came out 5-3 winners, extending their win streak to three games.
San Diego Gulls @ Ontario Reign
The rematch with the Reign took place in Ontario with a Saturday 3pm face-off and saw Jeff Glass get his first start, owing to Jared Coreau heading to Switzerland for the Spengler Cup. Adam Cracknell is also headed to the tournament, opening a spot for Deven Sideroff to enter the line-up and the second year winger wasted no time acclimatizing. Squaring off with Remshaw (?) to the side of the Gulls net after the first skirmish of the game just under three minutes in. The BC native more than held his own, and quite literally beat down his opponent in what appeared a short, one-sided affair.
After trading power plays for the first eight minutes- mostly due to roughing minors occurring after numerous net front scuffles- the Reign drew first blood on an outnumbered rush that Glass was able to make the initial save on. However, Ontario were able to take advantage of the slow-to-assist Gulls defence and passed it around the zone, eventually finding an open man and a shooting lane that Glass was unable to square up to in time.
San Diego controlled play for much of the next four minutes, including one shift where they executed a perfect on the fly line-change, all while holding the Reign zone as each forward quietly changed out one at a time while shifting the puck around the zone.
Eventually they were rewarded - scoring in similar fashion to the Reign when Matt Berry and Kalle Kossila flew into the Reign zone on a two-on-one. Berry’s shot was stopped by Cambell but Kossila slammed the rebound home for the equaliser.
KALLE KOSSILA!— San Diego Gulls (@SDGullsAHL) December 22, 2018
Takes the rebound off the rush and puts it into the open net! His sixth of the season comes from Berry and Welinski! 1-1 with seven minutes to play in the first. #LetsGoGulls pic.twitter.com/roXpKf3PYe
The period ended with San Diego still controlling play but unable to get a clear opportunity.
The middle frame opened with five minutes of tight checking- and not a hell of a lot of high danger chances- until a Reign chance down low turned into a goal via a bad rebound given up by Glass and an open Ontario player in the right spot to finish.
Two minutes later, with San Diego about to enjoy a man advantage, an errant pass thrown by Carrick missed its intended target and went all the way down into the empty net. A bad break for the Gulls of embarrassing proportions.
Thankfully on the eventual power play San Diego was able to get one back via a tipped Jaycob Megna shot from the point. Sam Carrick with a play that erased his goof just moments before.
SAM CARRICK!— San Diego Gulls (@SDGullsAHL) December 23, 2018
Back within one! @carrick_sam gets his team-leading 15th goal of the season on the power play, from Megna and Steel! 3-2 with 12:21 to go in the second. #LetsGoGulls pic.twitter.com/FX1v9r6cAV
San Diego held all the momentum to follow as the game began to open up. Sam Steel had not one but two one-on-one opportunities with Campbell, but was stopped on both occasions, and Troy Terry seemingly had as many shots on net as he had zone entries in the same span.
Less than a minute into the third, the Reign struck again when a point shot was deflected on its way through Glass to give Ontario a 4-2 lead.
The Reign attempted to exert their dominance by upping the physical play, but that backfired as Brent Sutter was called for a late hit on Keaton Thompson, and the Gulls’ suddenly potent power play put one by Campbell from the stick of Andy Welinski.
ANDY WELINSKI!— San Diego Gulls (@SDGullsAHL) December 23, 2018
On the power play! @shmandy7 gets his second PPG in as many nights, and we're back within one. Kossila and Jones with the assists, 15 minutes to play! #LetsGoGulls pic.twitter.com/NVer9FqObf
Two minutes later tensions erupted again as noted shithead Kurtis McDermid lit up Matt Berry with a punishing open ice hit. Berry popped right back up and continued in the offensive play, then finished a hit on the opposite boards that drew a fracas. A lengthy delay followed as penalties were assessed: Berry was tossed - leaving the Gulls down three forwards as Sideroff was yet to return from whatever injury he sustained in his under-card bout, and Gaznic was still sitting the ten he was assessed for his.
Somehow the Gulls came out of it with a five on three, and despite some big saves from Glass on the initial push, the Reign were able to add a fifth goal.
Seconds later - right off the center ice face-off as they looked to kill the remaining major penalty time- Jo Blandisi forced a turnover behind the Reign net and fed Kossila for the quick response shorthanded goal. 5-4 Reign.
KALLE KOSSILA!— San Diego Gulls (@SDGullsAHL) December 23, 2018
Short-handed, nine seconds later! @Kossila11 and Blandisi team up on the forecheck and get us back within one! #LetsGoGulls pic.twitter.com/F9wXjBl8Du
The Reign hit right back. Phillip Mailet found open space coming from the point and fired it high over the should of Glass to pad the lead back to two.
Jo Blandisi made matters worse by taking a very stupid slashing penalty as he was bumped off an offensive chance in the Reign zone, sending his team back to the five on three.
The Gulls managed to kill the two man disadvantage. Blandisi joined Kossila on a partial two on one as he exited the box, taking a pass from the Finn and attempting his patented spinorama move but was unable to convert. Less than a minute later, the five minute major was killed and the “Rookie” line came out with a jump to their step. Sam Steel dipped and dove around the Reign net, freeing himself and creating room for his team-mates at the same time. As the Reign drew nearer to him in an attempt to strip him of the puck he sent a neat cross ice pass to Troy Terry at the backdoor who put it home to bring the Gulls back within one. 6-5 Reign with 7:04 remaining.
TROY TERRY!— San Diego Gulls (@SDGullsAHL) December 23, 2018
Still fighting! @troyterry1997 picks up his tenth goal of the season to pull us back within one! Sam Steel gets the helper, 7:04 to play! #LetsGoGulls pic.twitter.com/JuEZZycPf6
San Diego carried momentum and hemmed the Reign in their zone for the next two shifts - resulting in a game tying goal from a very excited and overly enthusiastic about letting the crowd know about it - Jo Blandisi.
JOE BLANDISI!— San Diego Gulls (@SDGullsAHL) December 23, 2018
Ties it up one minute later!! 6-6! Kossila picks up his fourth point of the night with an assist, De Leo gets the other apple! #LetsGoGulls pic.twitter.com/zWtCqy3nL3
The Gulls took it to Ontario for the remainder of the period, coming close on a couple of occasions including a last minute backhand shot from Blandisi in the slot at the buzzer, but it wouldn't go.
San Diego enjoyed the majority of the chances in OT, including an almost breakaway as Terry stripped noted shithead Kurtis McDermid of the puck at the point but the puck was too far ahead of him, and Jack Campbell came all the way out to the blue line to prevent the chance. Then Jo Blandisi drew a hooking penalty as he took the puck down low, giving the Gulls a power-play. San Diego couldnt do much with the man advantage; they had Welinski setup for a perfect one-timer at one point, but he fanned on it and the puck went all the way down to the Gulls’ zone. Neither team could finish this in the extra sesion and to the shootout we went.
Glass was unable to stop the rookie Rempal and San Diego could not convert on their three chances as the Reign rather undeservedly took this one in a 7-6 shootout decision.
San Diego Gulls vs Bakersfield Condors
With Tropp and Berry out with suspensions (Tropp’s not announced until a day after the game) and Sideroff sidelined with a hand injury sustained in his early bout with the Ontario Reign, the Gulls were forced to sign Bryan Marchement and Steve McParland to PTOs out of the ECHL. Over the break Tyler Soy was quietly let go of his one-year AHL only deal and released to attend University in Alberta has he had originally intended to do before the season began.
McParland made his presence known early by causing a turnover deep in the Bakersfield zone with a huge open ice hit on Phil Esposito (Quiero respirar tu cuello despacito).
Boyle was forced to make a timely save on a partial breakaway for the talented Kailer Yamamoto, created when Simon Benoit stumbled on the blue line.
Max Jones had brilliant opportunity when he grabbed a bouncing puck with speed, creating his own opportunity with very soft hands in front, but was beaten only by the post.
Boyle was again forced to make a big stop when Bakersfield executed a quick passing play down low, culminating in a point black opportunity from the slot.
The second began with San Diego pressing. The best opportunity belonged to Max Jones as he again proved a force in front, creating space with speed and using a power move to get into position but running out of room down low.
Despite the Gulls controlling much of the action in the middle frame, the Condors struck first on the rush finding the late man coming with speed at the eight minute mark.
The visitors struck again just minutes later - pressuring San Diego in their own zone, eventually forcing a turnover and creating a chance near the right hash marks.
Sam Steel thought he had brought the Gulls back within one, but his hard shot from the slot was shown to hit the iron. However newcomer McParland kept momentum going and cleaned up a rebound on the very next shift to get San Diego on the board.
STEVE MCPARLAND!— San Diego Gulls (@SDGullsAHL) December 28, 2018
Welcome, new guy! After we hit back-to-back posts, McParland puts it in for his goal in his first game as a Gull! Moldenhauer and Marchment with the assists, just over a minute remaining in the 2nd! #LetsGoGulls pic.twitter.com/1lC6DAqEJB
The Gulls controlled play for the next five minutes, setting up camp in the Condors’ zone, and were finally rewarded when a Kalle Kossila faceoff win back to Jaycob Megna allowed the San Diego captain time and space to size up and measure a shot that made it through a mass of bodies and into the net for the game tying score.
JAYCOB MEGNA!— San Diego Gulls (@SDGullsAHL) December 28, 2018
Ties it! @JaycobMegna finds the back of the net with a shot from the point! Kossila gets the lone helper, and it's 2-2 five minutes into the third! #LetsGoGulls pic.twitter.com/Z89l2xKh5V
San Diego were awarded a five minute power play when Christopher was given a misconduct and major penalty for a very dangerous hit from behind against Keaton Thompson. Play was sporadic and uncoordinated for the first minute, but the Gulls did manage to get set and execute a perfect overload play - feeding Welinski at the point for the one timer which sailed in for the three to two lead. Jo Blandisi actively screamed in a Condors’ face in celebration until the refs had to drag him away to join his teammates huddle.
ANDY WELINSKI!— San Diego Gulls (@SDGullsAHL) December 28, 2018
Gives us our first lead of the night with a PPG! @shmandy7 bombs a one-timer to make it 3-2! Terry and Kossila get the assists with 8:45 to go! #LetsGoGulls pic.twitter.com/TUwDzYJyjY
The Gulls converted again on the major on another passing play, this time a perfectly timed cross-ice pass from Chase DeLeo to Carrick which he hit on the hop to make it four to two. Blandisi was sadly not on the ice to let the Condors know about this one.
SAM CARRICK!— San Diego Gulls (@SDGullsAHL) December 28, 2018
Another PPG makes it 4-2! That's points in five straight for @carrick_sam, as De Leo and Schenn get the assists! 6:17 to go in the third period. #LetsGoGulls pic.twitter.com/IvxCYuS4iQ
The Condors hit right back, having gotten their full complement of five back on they set to work passing around the Gulls’ zone and spread the San Diego defense too thin. Their swift passing found the open man to easily get it by the suddenly-bored Boyle to get back within one with five minutes left.
However with the Condors pressing and their net empty, San Diego hung on for the win and extended their points streak.
San Diego @ Bakersfield Condors
With Berry returned from suspension but Tropp still out, it meant the second straight game for newcomer Steve McParland. Sustr also returned to the line up as Andy Welinski was called up - for what I assume was to help the woeful Ducks Power Play. Newly acquired Trevor Murphy also made his debut. Jeff Glass also made his second start as Boyle has been recalled to Anaheim as contingency for Gibson potentially suffering an injury. He was returned, but apparently not in time for this game.
Gazdic had the best chance of the early going - forcing a turnover in the Condors’ zone and getting setup in the slot, but he could not pull the trigger on the pass that was fed to him.
Sam Carrick was assessed a weak tripping penalty for what looked more like a simple check near the Condors’ goal line and Bakersfield converted with the man advantage, using swift passing to break the Gulls’ penalty killing box.
San Diego had a power play midway through the first, and despite some good looks as well as the introduction of Trevor Murphy at the point, they could not convert.
Four minutes later, Jeff Glass made his best save as a Gull thus far when he turned aside a post to post cross crease opportunity on a two on one.
Jeff Glass how ya doinnnnn' #LetsGoGulls pic.twitter.com/naDOre7G7Y— San Diego Gulls (@SDGullsAHL) December 30, 2018
Two minutes later, Max Jones took it upon himself to get the Gulls evened up by busting down the right side, fending off Condors’ defenders, and forcing his way in front in tight, collecting a rebound off his initial shot and getting it by the Condor’s net-minder.
MAX JONES!— San Diego Gulls (@SDGullsAHL) December 30, 2018
Power. Move. @Jones_Max19 drives the net and picks up his ninth of the season! Megna gets the assist and it's 1-1 with four minutes left in the first! #LetsGoGulls pic.twitter.com/PSUAkpsDaZ
The middle frame sputtered it’s way to a slow and disjointed conclusion with a multitude of icings and offside calls where the scores remained tied.
Play was middling in the third, with San Diego enjoying the majority of the first four minutes in the Condors’ zone before a turnover and partial breakaway resulted in a 2-1 lead for the home team.
San Diego poured it on in response, and had a few good opportunities including a two on one as Sam Steel and Chase DeLeo sped into the Condors zone- but Steel’s pass was deflected and cleared. I’d like to see the play-maker shoot more on opportunities like that; by now it is probably well known that he will always look to pass.
The Condors thought they had a two goal lead when a shot from the face off squeaked by Glass five hole, but Schenn- realising his goaltenders plight- got in behind and prevented the goal, while chaos broke out in front.
With under four minutes left in the game and the Gulls still pressing, the Condors took a high sticking penalty when an inadvertent stick clipped the newly acquired Trevor Murphy (who spent maybe less than thirty seconds getting his face fixed before taking the ice for the second unit) and then proceeding to hammer home a game tying goal with just over three minutes remaining.
TREVOR MURPHY!— San Diego Gulls (@SDGullsAHL) December 30, 2018
With an absolute ! Murphy's first goal in a San Diego jersey is a big one, tying things up 2-2 with just over three minutes to play! #LetsGoGulls pic.twitter.com/xee5qlIncn
San Diego pressured for the remainder of regulation, but could not get the go-ahead tally and the teams headed to overtime.
San Diego had a few clear cut chances from Blandisi and Steel but appeared to lose Kossila on a hard check into the boards that the forward looked uncomfortable getting up from.
On the ensuing face-off, the puck found Troy Terry as he came through the neutral zone with speed. The shifty forwarded then created yet more space, cutting across the grain before firing a hard wrist shot whose release appeared to fool the Condors’ goaltender as it snuck by him for the Gulls win. The goal was Terry’s third game winner on the year.
TROY TERRY!— San Diego Gulls (@SDGullsAHL) December 30, 2018
Wins it in overtime!!!!!!! Benoit gets the assist! Comeback complete! #LetsGoGulls pic.twitter.com/b6oubt0Kxl
San Diego @ San Jose Barracuda
With Kossila added to the steadily growing list of the walking wounded, the Gulls ECHL PTO Jake Marchment was re-inserted back into the line-up and slotted in on the fourth line along with McParland and Thomson. While Dostie was elevated to play with Steel and Terry.
The Barracuda put the newly-returned-from-Anaheim Kevin Boyle under siege right off the bat, peppering him with seven shots in the first four minutes, but the former UC-Lowell standout withstood the barrage. An odd-man opportunity with Blandisi and DeLeo led to a quick San Diego lead, thanks to a beautiful pass from Blandisi to DeLeo.
CHASE DE LEO!— San Diego Gulls (@SDGullsAHL) December 31, 2018
Breaks the ice and starts the scoring! @Dels9 one-times the Blandisi feed for his seventh of the season! 1-0 just over four minutes in. #LetsGoGulls pic.twitter.com/tNhawjI5Yn
Max Jones did as Max Jones does and drew a penalty in the Barracuda zone, and the Gulls hammered Antoine Bibeau with a litany of chances, only halting when Keaton Thompson went down with what looked like a nasty leg injury and needed help leaving the ice.
On the second shift after the commercial break, Max Jones scored quite possibly the Gulls’ goal of the year- easily up there in franchise history with Kalle Kossila’s Michigan goal.
Camped out to the left of the net, Jones accepted a very nice pass from Sam Carrick then immediately shifted the puck between his legs facing away from the goaltender before roofing it home over the stunned Bibeau.
MAX JONES!— San Diego Gulls (@SDGullsAHL) December 31, 2018
BETWEEN THE LEGS! @Jones_Max19. WOW. 2-0. #LetsGoGulls pic.twitter.com/Hz34fi6zht
Keaton Thompson returned to start the second period where nothing too eventful occurred until just after the seven minute mark, when a face-off win at center ice by Sam Steel and a dump in that was eventually won back by a combination of Trevor Murphy and Troy Terry, the latter of whom circled around, found Sam Steel sneaking to the far post and fed him a perfect pass to bury for a three to nothing lead.
SAM STEEL!— San Diego Gulls (@SDGullsAHL) December 31, 2018
Makes it 3-0! @ssteel23 takes the pass from Terry and puts it home for his sixth goal of the season! Murphy picks up the secondary assist, 12 minutes to go in the second! #LetsGoGulls pic.twitter.com/29RYDRYRDJ
The Barracuda pressed and held momentum for much of of the rest of the period, barring a brief San Diego man advantage in which Matt Berry had not one but two chances, but it would be the home team that would get one back with less than ten seconds left in the middle frame on an outnumbered rush.
The third period was very stop-start with the Gulls keeping offensive pressure up despite the two goal lead. Blandisi was a tad overzealous in his desire to increase their lead, and was assessed a tripping penalty in the San Jose zone. As San Diego successfully killed the penalty, an odd man rush broke as Blandisi exited the box and Sam Carrick was the recipient of a three on one rush to make it 4-1 with just under six minutes remaining.
SAM CARRICK!— San Diego Gulls (@SDGullsAHL) December 31, 2018
4-1! PK unit shuts the door and turns it right around to make it a three-goal lead! @carrick_sam gets his 17th from Blandisi and Jones with under six to play! #LetsGoGulls pic.twitter.com/sTPcs3FPNg
With less than two minutes left and the San Jose net empty, a strong hustle play by Max Jones led to him tracking down a loose puck and sending an easy pass for Troy Terry to lazily push into the empty net for the final 5-1 score, extending the streak to eight points.
San Diego @ Bakersfield Condors
In their second game in Bakersfield in under a week, the Gulls started relatively slow, only getting their first shot on net after three minutes of play. But on the following face-off, a seemingly harmless shot off the face-off from Matt Berry bounced by the Condors’ net-minder for the early lead.
MATT BERRY!— San Diego Gulls (@SDGullsAHL) January 3, 2019
Right off the face-off! Cracknell wins it back and Berry puts it in! 1-0 with 16 minutes to play in the opening period. #LetsGoGulls pic.twitter.com/I3WyHUF6rV
The Condors piled on a further seventeen shots (including two power-plays) on Boyle, but the New Jersey native stood tall and turned them all aside to head to the first intermission up by a score of one to nothing.
The Condors continued their pressure in the second period, but San Diego managed to turn momentum ever so slightly at the midway point. Then Kevin Boyle was assessed a delay of game penalty for purportedly playing the puck outside the trapezoid, but without the benefit of a replay it was hard to see whether he did or not. The Condors converted on the resulting man advantage to even the game up on a cross-ice pass that Boyle could not get across in time for.
Matt Berry had an almost golden opportunity all of his own creation when he took on the Condors’ defenders and somehow managed to slip through them in a Terry-esque move, but could not get the shot away in tight.
The period ended with the Condors narrowly out-shooting the Gulls 10-9 in the period.
The third period was quite possibly the most boring period of the Gulls’ season, with barely any scoring chances for either side, nor any exciting worth mentioning until the final two minutes of play when a Gulls’ drive in the Condors’ zone resulted in a big rebound, spitting out to the high slot where Jo Blandisi pounced and sent it high glove side for the 2-1 Gulls lead with just over a minute left. I think it is safe to say that Jo Blandisi loves to hate on the Condors.
JOE BLANDISI!— San Diego Gulls (@SDGullsAHL) January 3, 2019
Makes it 2-1 with 1:10 to play!! Berry with the assist! #LetsGoGulls pic.twitter.com/6uSlrH24Yy
San Diego turned away a desperate Condors push and took the win to bring themselves into a three way tie for third place in the Pacific Division and take their point streak to ten.
News and Observations:
Trades and Moves:
A lot of roster movement has happened since the last update. Here it is in timeline form.
Tyler Soy released from one-year AHL deal: The Cloverdale BC native had fourteen points in nineteen games in the ECHL with the Tulsa Oilers, but as the Gulls continued to sign other more experienced ECHL players to PTOs rather than call him up, he more than likely decided that is original pre-season decision of going to the University of Alberta made better sense long-term. I wish him luck in his career and hopefully he does not give up on hockey entirely.
Lundestrom loaned to Team Sweden for the WJCs: The 19 year old had two points in fifteen games with the Ducks and six points in twelve games with the Gulls. At the tournament in BC he put up very good numbers with four points in five games, but Team Sweden were bounced in the Quarter Finals by Switzerland. Reports have come out that he is looking to rejoin his former SHL team Lulea rather than return to the Gulls, and given that AHL Transactions as other bounced countries players returning to their teams such as Martin Kaut for the Eagles and Necas to the Checkers but no sign of Lundestrom for the Gulls, that could be the case.
Cracknell and Correau depart for Spengler Cup: Both players have since returned; however in their absence, in the case of Correau, a player that was acquired to cover has since managed to supplant him.
Steve McParland signed to PTO: The twenty-seven year old Ontario native had twenty three points in twenty eight games for the Idaho Steelheads in the ECHL. He scored a goal in his first game with the Gulls, but despite strong play has yet to register another point. He has the one point in four games thus far.
Jake Marchment signed to PTO and then released: Just a quick cup of coffee for the nephew of former NHL tough guy Bryan Marchment. He got in another two games with the Gulls before being returned to the Grizzlies of the ECHL. Memorably, he did have a spirited bout in the game against San Jose last week.
Giovanni Fiore traded to Arizona for Trevor Murphy: It was sad to see Gio go, but the twenty-two year old was plagued by the same scoring inconsistency we saw in his rookie year last season. His 2.09 points per game was trending lower than the 2.16 he put up last year, and despite initially responding well to a healthy scratch stint earlier in the year, he had fallen back into the same skid. The Roadrunners likely wanted him for his size and were able to give up Murphy due to their defensive depth. The left shooting offensive blueliner perfectly solves the problems the Gulls faced whenever Andy Welinski was called up - with Mahura now permanently up until Cam Fowler is back from injury. He already has two points in three games with the Gulls while Fiore has yet to get anything on the board in two games with Tuscon.
Welinski recalled, Sustr returned: The Anaheim power play is still failing to launch, and Jake Dotchin appears to have been made a scapegoat for some of the poor defensive play displayed in the Ducks’ current six game losing streak. Andy Welinski was recalled to take Dotchin’s place but strangely was not used on the man advantage. We’ll see if that changes in the next week’s games. Sustr meanwhile has come back down and played the same game he did before his recall to sit as the 7th defence man - that is to say he doesn’t stand out a whole lot, and he has at least one brain fart per game.
Gulls sign Johno May to PTO: The 6”5’ 205 lb right shooting twenty five year old forward has thirty points in thirty five games with the Greenville Swamp Rabbits (the what?) of the ECHL. He has yet to see a game with the Gulls, but that could change tonight.
Anaheim trades Coreau to St Louis for Future Considerations: As mentioned previously, the acquisition of Jeff Glass to cover for when Coreau went to the Spengler Cup appears to have made him expendable. He had a 3.57 GAA and 0.895 SV% while in San Diego and although the numbers for Glass in a smaller sample size aren’t looking much better (3.33 GA and 0.863 SV% through two games), he has made saves when he needed to in this recent point streak. It was also likely much easier to deal Coreau than it was Glass, and one of the two had to go.
San Diego acquires Jared Thomas from San Antonio for Future Considerations: This is the other half of the Coreau deal. Essentially (like last year with Tokarski) Coreau is on an NHL deal and Thomas is on a AHL/ECHL deal, so each side of the deal had to be “future considerations” as you cannot deal an NHL contract for an AHL/ECHL one. He is third on the Tulsa Oilers in points with twenty and will likely remain with them as injury cover for San Diego down the stretch. Speaking of injuries..
With Kalle Kossila going down last week, the Gulls now have four different players out with various ailments.
- Kalle Kossila: Upper Body (it looked that way from a hard check sustained against the Condors in the overtime session last week)
- Deven Sideroff: Broken Hand (I am assuming this - sustained in a fight against Ontario last month)
- Corey Tropp: Unknown (I didnt see where or how he got hurt but he hasnt returned since his one-game suspension given during the game against Ontario on Dec 21st)
- Jack Kopacka: Wrist Laceration (Still out since the first week of the season, no update or sign of when he is returning)
That does not include Kevin Roy who has yet to see any action this season with either the Ducks or the Gulls.
Terry Leading The Way:
Troy Terry had a brief respite from his initial torrid pace of scoring when he was first sent down, but he is picking it back up again of late. He now co-leads all rookies in scoring with thirty-one points in twenty-seven games and co-leads in assists with nineteen. He is second among rookies in Game Winning Goals with three. Terry also leads the Gulls in scoring, and it has been recently announced that he has been selected for the All Star Game.
Rookie. @troyterry1997. #AHLAllStar. #LetsGoGulls pic.twitter.com/K6uRTrvW0Y— San Diego Gulls (@SDGullsAHL) January 4, 2019
Max Jones coming on strong
After starting out slow, the 6”3’ 220lb winger has now amassed nineteen points in twenty-seven games. He is also contributing where it doesn't always show on the scoresheet, routinely drawing a call with this speed and size, forcing opposing teams to either trip or hook him as he busts around their zone. Given his ability to completely take over a game, that has been evident in at least two or three of the last six games, I don’t think it will be long before he earns himself a call up to Anaheim. At this point he is definitely first, if not second, in line for a Left Wing recall.
Standings and Special Teams Update
The recent ten-point streak has given the Gulls a healthy boost up the standings, where they now sit in a three-way-tie for third in the Pacific with Bakersfield and Colorado, just four points behind Tuscon and eight points behind the division leaders and tonight's opponent San Jose Barracuda.
League-wide- they are positioned in the middle of the pack, with fifteen overall in points percentage, ahead of traditional powerhouses like Wilkes-Barre and Toronto.
The Power-Play has also climbed, now sitting fourth overall in the league with a 21.5% conversion rate- again among esteemed company and just one percentage point above Toronto.
The Penalty Kill has an 80.2% kill rate, but is only good enough for twentieth overall in the league.
No ECHL Affiliate No Problem
Earlier in the season when I initially inquired with Andy Zilch (as a question posed to the Gulls Cast Podcast) about the lack of ECHL affitiliate, his answer was along the lines of “its not a big deal, they can still call up players from the likes of Idaho and Tulsa.” At the time I didn’t completely understand the advantages of that, but given the quality of players the Gulls have been able to sign as PTO’s of late, I can now see why a lack of agreement with any particular ECHL club is actually a smart move. It means San Diego can grab from any one team in the league so long as the player is not under contract with an NHL club - Steve McParland and Johno May are recent examples of this.
In the last edition of MOTF I tried to guess at what could be the cause of the Gulls’ lack of success to start the season compared to last year - landing on either coaching change or lack of “Fehr Factor”. Given the last ten point stretch - which directly correlates to the arrival of Adam Cracknell- I think it is safe to say that veteran leadership and presence in the forwards is an often underrated- but vastly important- key to an AHL squad make-up. It also goes a long way to explain the recent PTO signings out of the ECHL: all players in the mid-twenties range with more than a few years pro experience.
Finally back at home - facing the San Jose Baracuda in an attempt to keep the points streak going and claw some ground back on the division leaders.
Then it’s off on the road again hitting the Reign on Sunday, Stockton on Wednesday and then heading east to for the annual Midwest swing of Milwaukee, Iowa and Texas.
Yes, I know I promised a Mid-Year Grades piece. It is coming- I promise.