Gulls: Scouting the Enemy

(Photo Credit: San Diego Gulls // flickr)

A rivalry that I’m personally enjoying more and more is that of the Nashville Predators and Anaheim Ducks. The two do not get along, pack skill and grit, and can really knock seven bells out of one-another. It is always entertaining to watch. The rivalry is still raw with the 2017 NHL Western Conference Finals match-up still lingering. And we’re not far removed from the two having yet another scrappy affair. If the Milwaukee Admirals and San Diego Gulls can display any of the same intensity as their parent clubs? Milwaukee is in for a treat tonight.

The Gulls currently have a record of 8-10-1-0 (17 points, 0.447 points percentage). That puts them in last place of the Pacific Division and only ahead of the Chicago Wolves (0.357) for the worst record in the Western Conference. They do enter this game following a hard earned 3-2 win on the road over the Ontario Reign but are 4-6-0-0 in their last 10 games played.

Something that I do feel is very much worth noting is the travel element for the Gulls. This is the longest trip they’ve really has since October 27-28 when they trekked out to Texas to play against the Texas Stars and San Antonio Rampage. With the exception of the Tucson Roadrunners: the Gulls have played every other game to this point in the season inside the warm comforts of California. It shouldn’t be as bad tonight, being that it is the start of a road trip, but they might still need to manage their output considering they are beginning a two-in-two with a game against the Chicago Wolves tomorrow night at the Allstate Arena.

I had this game penciled down the moment Mike Liambas had signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Ducks organization. As it turns out ‘The Bus’ has moved its way back to the NHL. This season Liambas had logged 7 games for the Ducks and recorded his first career NHL point with a primary assist back on 11/24/17 against the Winnipeg Jets. It’s likely he’ll gravitate back to the Gulls and the AHL, where he has 5 points (2 goals, 3 assists) in 13 games this season, but -for now- it is fantastic seeing his hard work not going unnoticed.

Leading the charge offensively for the Gulls right now is Spencer Abbott. The 29-year old has 19 points (6 goals, 13 assists) in 15 games this season. He is followed by defenseman Andy Welinski who currently has 16 points (6 goals, 10 assists) in 19 games which ranks him sixth best among AHL defensemen.

There are some pretty good prospects in the Gulls camp. Jacob Larsson, for example, was the Ducks first round selection in the 2015 NHL Draft and the 20-year old is embarking on his first full North American pro season this year. But a possible undrafted gem might have been picked up this off-season by the Ducks.

Giovanni Fiore finished his major junior career last season in Cape Breton Screaming Eagles (QMJHL) with authority: 90 points (52 goals, 38 assists) in 61 games as well as producing 12 points (8 goals, 4 assists) in 11 games during the QMJHL Playoffs. Undrafted. He signs a three-year entry level contract with the Ducks. And he is third on the Gulls in scoring already with 14 points (6 goals, 8 assists) in 18 games.

Between the pipes the Gulls have a rather good veteran mix at the moment: Reto Berra and Leland Irving. Yet it is the youngest of their trifecta, Kevin Boyle, who has the most games played under his belt so far during his second professional playing season. Boyle has played 11 games this season for the Gulls and has a 3.61 goals against average and 0.885 save percentage. It would feel the likely candidate to start tonight would be Berra who did earn the win for the Gulls last time out while stopping 35/37 against the Reign. With the two-in-two looming it could be entirely up in the air for how the Gulls would like to work their goaltenders between Milwaukee and Chicago.

What are your expectations for tonight’s match-up between the Milwaukee Admirals and the San Diego Gulls? Will an opponent such as this help the Admirals seeing as they can focus more on themselves that a repeated opponent? Do you think any of the rivalry between the parent clubs could sneak into this game>

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