PREVIEW: Gulls flock to Colorado for three games against Eagles
March 1, 2022
By AJ Manderichio/SanDiegoGulls.com
The San Diego Gulls continue a franchise-record eight-game road trip tonight, taking on the Colorado Eagles in a battle of the birds at the Budweiser Events Center in Loveland, CO (6:05 p.m. PT; TV: AHL TV; RADIO: Mouettes Audio Network).
San Diego is still looking for its first victory against its feathered foes this season. Colorado won the first three meetings — all at Pechanga Arena in San Diego — edging the Gulls 12-7 in their three wins. The Gulls are 12-9-1-0 against Colorado, including a 4-4-1-0 on the road.
“It’s a team we struggle with,” Gulls assistant coach said Dan Jacob said following a recent practice. “They’re a quick team; they play the game very fast. We have to make sure that our transition, whether in attack or defense, is up to the task. That’s all we discussed.
“At the same time, we’ve been saying it since day one, it’s about us and what we want to establish here, the culture. It will be small things for us.
The Gulls fly to Colorado after a two-game sweep against the Henderson Silver Knights at Orleans Arena. San Diego received several standout performances, including back-to-back wins from the recently reassigned Lucas Dostal. The Czechia native earned American Hockey League Player of the Week honors for his play, posting a 2-0-0 record with a 1.01 goals-against-average (GAA) and save percentage. 0.964 (SV%) stops. The weekend saw Dostal move up to second on the club’s all-time winning list and record his first career AHL shutout.
“I’m surprised it’s his first,” the Gulls defender said. Trevor Carrick said about his keeper. “I thought he had a few before that. Well deserved by him. He was our anchor there, him and Olle (Eriksson Ek). It was huge for him. This three-hour game happened pretty quickly, so it came in big for us there.
Offensively, San Diego scored nine goals in the two wins, extending its streak of three or more goals to eight straight games. Center Danny O’Regan recorded four points (2-2=4) to pace the offensive attack all the way forward Alexandre Limoges led all skaters with three goals in the weekend series.
“It was really good for us, after two games against Ontario where we lost 4-3,” Carrick said. “Against a good team, we weren’t very happy with the way we played. We all thought we could have escaped a game, so it was nice to get back into the win column there, especially with the upcoming schedule. Three against Colorado, which we haven’t beaten yet, so it will be a good challenge for us. We will feel good before that, and Stockton and Bako (Bakersfield) after that. So we have a good test coming up.
The test involves Colorado, which enters tonight after its own two-game weekend against the Milwaukee Admirals. Former Gull Kiefer Sherwood scored the game-winning score in their 4-1 victory on Saturday before newly assigned Stefan Matteau won 4-3 in overtime on Sunday. They have won their last three games and enter tonight as one of the best offensive teams in the league.
The Eagles are powered by a trio of 40-point scorers – Sherwood (25-20=45), left wing Dylan Sikura (17-27=44) and defenseman Jordan Gross (7-35=42). San Diego knows the trio well, as the three also beat Colorado by scoring against the Gulls.
To stop that trio – and the rest of the Eagles’ talented roster – the Gulls have focused on good puck management in recent practices.
“We have to move our feet,” Jacob said. “We also have to make sure we manage this puck. A big part of defense is managing that puck, and that’s something we have to do on both blue lines. This has been resolved, and this is something we want to make sure we take care of.
In addition, the technical staff focused on the team’s attack.
“They’re a very fast team, so we’ve been working on our transition, just trying to transition quickly and play at their pace, because they’re a fast-moving team,” Carrick said. “We’ll have to be really good in our own zone and pretty solid offensively. I just work to close the game quickly and be tough defensively.