The San Diego Gulls took on the Stockton Heat in their first game since the trade deadline that saw veteran forward leave and Corey Tropp, a young forward acquired in the Jackman trade with the Chicago Blackhawks, joining the roster on the third line. The feeling heading into the game was that the team needed to get on the board first and set the pace, in the past they have allowed the visiting team to much room and being taken off their game. They also knew getting the first goal is a crucial step for the Gulls as their record when scoring first is 20-0-0-1.
Coming off a strong finish in the month of February, the Gulls were looking to keep the momentum going in the first of this back to back series. The first period saw fast paced hockey met with very few shots, and even fewer quality scoring chances.
It was in the second period, however, that the Gulls decided to put on a show for the fans in San Diego and held a clinic on passing and shooting, leaving the Heat standing around bewildered, giving up a goal to Gulls Chris Mueller, and eventually drawing a series of penalties leaving the Heat down two players.
During the 5 on 3, Gulls generated scoring chances with precision passes leading to a rocket of a wrist shot by defenseman Shea Theodore, putting the Gulls up by two. Only moments later, with the Heat still down a man, Stefan Noesen, who was only sent back down to San Diego that morning by the Anaheim Ducks buried a loose puck behind Heat goaltender Kevin Poulin the putting the Gulls up by three. The remainder of the second period saw the Gulls keeping the pressure on the Heat and only allowing five additional shots on net.
The third period looked much more like the first with quick back and forth action but each team only managing a few shots, but no real scoring chances, but trading a good number of minor penalties, cycling through power play chances. It was the Heat that eventually managed to capitalize on one of their X shots in the period and scored a power-play goal making the score 3 to 1.
However, the Heats effort was not enough and Gulls took the game 3 to 1, pushing their winning streak to three and helping hold onto that third place playoff spot in the Pacific Division.
Stefen Noeson, who has been with both the Gulls and the Ducks within the last 24 hours called the experience “crazy” and said his goal tonight was the product of the team “clicking right now,” and that his line playing better together overall. He noted the team is really coming together and bonding as a team and building some chemistry and “finally settling into our team, we’ve had some big injuries this year, and are getting piece by piece back.”
Head coach Dallas Eakins praised the team for “playing well as of late and I like a lot of the habits in our game and the players are really upholding the values that we like in our game.”
When asked about Corey Tropp’s addition to the lineup, Eakins said that he knows there will be an adjustment to him learning the system but said, “I thought he worked hard for us, I liked that he went to the net, he gave us a solid game and he will only get better.” He said that Tropp brings “some hard-nosed hockey” to the team and when asked about the team’s roster after the trade deadline, Eakins added that the addition of Tropp and having some of the players back from Anaheim brings some depth to the team and that a lot of the veterans are “stepping up.”
Gulls line combinations:
Nicolas Kerdiles – Chris Mueller – Stefan Noesen
Antoine Laganiere – Matt Bailey – Joseph Camarossa
Harry Zolnierczyk – Michael Sgarbossa – Corey Tropp
Andrew O’Brien – Kenny Ryan – Brian McGrattan
Joe Piskula – Stu Bickel
Shane O’Brien – Shea Theodore
Jaycob Megna – Brandon Montour