PREVIEW: San Diego opens final month of regular season with weekend against Iowa

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March 31, 2022

By Paige Burnell/SanDiegoGulls.com

The San Diego Gulls are ready to redeem themselves against the Iowa Wild as the two teams meet in a back-to-back series, their final two meetings of the regular season, starting tonight at Pechanga Arena (7 p.m. PT; TV: AHL TV; RADIO: Gulls Audio Network).

The Wild are the only American Hockey League Central Division opponent the Gulls have played against this year, and the two teams haven’t parted ways on good terms. The Gulls fell in both weekend games on Jan. 28 (3-2) and Jan. 29 (6-1), leaving them winless against the Wild and 7- 4-1-0 in their previous 12 games. matches dating back to 2016-17.

“I want us to improve against Iowa,” Gulls head coach said Joel Bouchard noted. “It’s going to be a different team, kind of a playoff vibe, which means you dive deep into the playoffs, you see a different team that you haven’t seen in all year or too many and they have a different take on what we’ve seen in our division in some ways. They’re really tough, they’re really heavy, they have men on the other side, which is a good challenge.

The Gulls are in the perfect place to take on such a challenge after scoring in eight of their last nine games (7-1-0-1) and posting a six-game winning streak at home throughout the season. season that ended with a peak. – scoring a 7-5 loss to the Stockton Heat on March 27.

Alexandre Limoges stole the show once again by scoring his 19th and 20th goals of the season to bring his career-high scoring streak to five games (8-1=9). He became the second Gulls rookie in AHL history to score 20 goals in a season (last: Sam Steel, 2018-19).

“Don’t overthink it,” Limoges said of what led to his recent success. “Keep playing the game the right way and the hockey gods will reward you. It’s one of those things where you keep putting the puck deep the offense will create and as long as you work hard and take the forechecking bodies, creating turnovers, winning battles, those kinds of things will lead to a direct attack.”

If the left-winger scores at least one goal tonight, he can set the records for most goals in a season by a rookie (21) and longest scoring streak by a freshman skater (six). matches).

Limoges also set a new seven-game streak (8-4=12) and his 9-7=16 points from his 11 games in March set a new record for most points by a seagull in singles per month ( previous: Chase De Leo, 15 points, April 2021).

The Limoges tear is only part of the team’s scoring increase. The team has scored 36 goals in its last nine games, an impressive average of four goals per game. Additionally, the Gulls outscored their opponents 36-18 during the same stretch.

said Bouchard. “Our ‘We’ve grown in all aspects, with and without the puck and it’s hard to be precise about one thing or the other’, the score has gone up over the past few months and our defense has improved, but those are all the details we’ve been pushing since day one and it takes time.

Two other players contributing to San Diego’s offensive push are Lucas elves and Jacob Perreault.

Elvenes went 1-2=3 points on March 27 to tie his season-high for points in a game, extending his point streak to a fourth game (2-4=6), his longest point streak in as a gull.

Perreault pushed his point streak into a seventh game (4-10=14) with his fourth straight multi-point game (0-2=2) in Sunday’s backhand and has 5-12=17 points in his last 15 matches.

“You’ve got to give yourself volume, you’ve got to look like something meaningful to stand a chance,” Bouchard said when asked about the team’s increased offense. “We are really working on maximizing the scoring chances that we get in different ways.”

Additionally, from the start of his point streak from March 16 to March 27, Perreault tied for second in most points in the AHL (4-7=11) and ranked third in assists ( 7). Only Limoges was above him, ranking first in the league in goals (8) and points (8-4=12).

“Joël (Bouchard) gave us a game plan at the start of the year and we haven’t changed anything,” said the Gulls defender. Trevor Carrick noted. “We kind of stuck with it but we just worked on it and tried to progress and it was really nice to see that. Everyone’s kind of in sync right now and everyone’s on the same page and it’s a little easier to play when you know when your teammate is going to be there for you and stuff like that. Things are moving in the right direction, and I still think we’ve got even a little more of that.

San Diego will have to maintain the offense against Iowa, which outscored them 9-3 in the previous two meetings this season.

The Wild sit in seventh place in the Central Division and come in looking for their game, posting a 2-5-1-1 record over their last nine games. This includes a recent streak, where the team has lost four of its last five games. Only five teams are in the Central Division Calder Cup playoffs, and Iowa enters tonight within three points of the Texas Stars for the final playoff spot.

Mitchell Chaffe had a natural hat trick, including two on the power play, for the Wild in the Gulls’ loss on Jan. 29. After a five game scoreless streak, the right winger appears to be warming up just in time for tonight’s game, scoring four goals in his last two games (4-1=5).

The Gulls will also have to keep an eye on Brett Connolly who, like Limoges and Perreault, is on a seven-game point streak (7-3=10).

The Wild rival San Diego’s young stars with a rookie threat in Marco Rossi, who leads the team in assists (28) and points (44), while ranking fifth in points among the first-year AHL skaters.

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