PREVIEW: Gulls close out season with league-leading Heat


April 25, 2022

By Paige Burnell/

The San Diego Gulls and Stockton Heat will wrap up their eight-game regular season series tonight as the Gulls play their final regular season game at Pechanga Arena San Diego (7 p.m. PT; TV: AHL TV; RADIO: Gulls AudioNetwork).

The Gulls enter tonight after a 3-1 win over the Tucson Roadrunners where they scored three times in the final five minutes of regulation time. The win ended a seven-game winless streak (0-5-1-1).

“The pushback was great,” said the Gulls defender Brogan Rafferty mentioned. “I just want to shout out to the fans for supporting us all year and we had a great crowd to get us back into the game that night. No, I think we stuck together. We didn’t have the best start and we kind of got together as a team between periods and talked about what we wanted to work on and we just went out and played hockey and just played the game that we know how to play. in the game and do the right things with choice and The rest will take care of themselves.”

Getting a win after two tumultuous weeks has been crucial for the Gulls heading into the playoffs, and they can’t wait to go up against the best team in the American Hockey League.

“Obviously whoever we play with, we want to put in a good performance and play a good 60 minutes, but we’re looking to the playoffs,” Rafferty said. “We’re trying to build something, build momentum, so when we play Ontario…we rush the field. at the top.”

The Gulls are 21-25-4-3 all-time against the Heat with a 12-10-2-1 record at home. San Diego is 2-5-0-0 against Stockton this season after the Heat won the last game 7-5 on March 27.

“I’m looking for guys (to be) maybe a bit more forward in some of our actions,” Gulls head coach said Joel Bouchard mentioned. “I don’t think we were terrible at all in the last streak. We just pushed some of the areas of our game to make sure we were on top.”

Lucas Elves certainly did that against Stockton this season.

The Swede tied a season-high 1-2=3 points on March 27 and leads San Diego in points against the Heat with 1-5=6 points in three games with Gull. Combining his numbers with the Henderson Silver Knights, Elvenes burned Stockton for 2-6=8 points. He enters tonight with 1-3=4 points in his last three games.

The duo of Jacob Perreault and Brent Gates Jr. will be looking to continue their strong run against the Heat. The two scored just 1:19 apart in Saturday’s win, delivering the tied and winning tallies. The two enter tonight second among San Diego skaters in points against Stockton, with Perreault (0-5=5) tying Brent Gates Jr. (3-2=5).

The Gulls will need to find the score to fill the void left by the recalls of the right wingers Hunter Drew and Boyfriend Robinson and defender Trevor Carrick. The Anaheim Ducks recalled the trio yesterday ahead of their two-game trip to San Jose and Dallas.

The two California rivals continue to prepare for the 2022 Calder Cup playoffs. The Gulls will face Ontario Reign in the first round, beginning Wednesday, May 4 at Toyota Arena. Division champion Heat earned a bye to the divisional semifinal, where they could face San Diego.

Despite getting a first-round assist, Stockton still has a shot at winning the AHL’s Macgregor Kilpatrick Trophy, awarded to the team that finishes top of the regular season standings by points percentage. They currently lead the Chicago Wolves as both have two games left on their schedule.

“They’re one of the best teams in our conference and one of the best teams in our league, so obviously it’s a good test,” Bouchard said. “I think you can learn a lot playing against a good opponent. You’re going to be challenged and that’s what you want. So they’re going to challenge our players. Obviously we have to have good defence, good structure , that they’ve been good with structure and defence, it’s just making sure we’re on top of every detail because you’re playing against a good team, they’re going to make you pay.

Stockton enters tonight on a two-game slide, losing 4-0 and 5-4 in back-to-back games against Abbotsford.

Jakob Pelletier had a career-high 0-4=4 assists in the last loss and continues to lead all rookies in the league with 27-35=62 points this season. Pelletier also leads the Heat with 4-7=11 points in seven games against the Gulls. Matthew Phillips leads the Heat in goals, assists and points with 30-37=67.

The Heat are without sensational rookie goaltender Dustin Wolf. Recalled by the Calgary Flames of the National Hockey League last week, Wolf leads all AHL qualified goaltenders in wins (33) while ranking third in save percentage (.924) and seventh for the goals against average (2.33).


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