If you are like me, you have a lot of passion for your San Diego area teams.
With the Chargers leaving town, I found myself lost and looking for a new team to share this passion with. Yes we have the Padres and the Aztecs, and trust me, I have crazy amounts of passion for those teams, but I needed a team to fill this Charger-sized hole in my heart.
I’m not too big of a hockey fan, outside of watching some playoff games a couple of times a year I haven’t really seen much. But with football leaving the city, I decided why not give hockey a shot? We have a team right here in San Diego, a new team at that. So I decided to do a little digging.
History of Hockey in SD
Professional hockey was first introduced to San Diego in 1944 with the San Diego Skyhawks of the Pacific Coast Hockey League. San Diego has hosted a number of different hockey teams starting with the Skyhawks who lasted from 1944 to 1950. After that, the first San Diego Gulls team was introduced to the Western Hockey League in 1966 and lasted through 1974. Then the World Hockey Association brought in the Mariners from 1974 before moving the team in 1977 to the Pacific Hockey League where they stayed in San Diego just one season. The San Diego Hawks were then introduced to the PHL where they too lasted for just a season (1978-79). The Gulls were then re-introduced to San Diego, where they played in the International Hockey League from 1990 to 1995, the West Coast Hockey League from ’95 until 2003, and ECHL from 2003 until 2006. WOW. Professional hockey has had so much rich history in this city that I was completely oblivious to.
The New Gulls in Town
The San Diego Gulls are a minor league affiliate of the Anaheim Ducks. They first hit the ice on October 10, 2015 to start their very first AHL season, right here in San Diego. The Gulls had a very impressive first season, finishing 39-32-4, which was second in the Pacific Division and fifth in the entire Western Conference. They would go on to the playoffs and win their first playoff series 3-1 against the Texas Stars. They would eventually lose in the next round by a series count of 4-1. During this outstanding first season, the Gulls drew over 300,000 fans into the Valley View Casino Center, and averaged the second-most in average attendance with around 8,675 fans per game.
The head coach of the young and successful team is Dallas Eakins, who has appeared in 120 NHL contests with eight different teams and has spent the last 11 seasons coaching in both the NHL and AHL. Prior to coaching, he had a 20 year stint as a player in the NHL. Alongside Eakins are assistant coach Marty Wilford and video coach Brett Ferguson, who are in their fifth and sixth years with the Anaheim organization.
At the 30-game mark this year, the team sits in sixth place in the division at 15-12-2 with 33 points (Ontario Reign lead the division with 40 points).
To give you some information on the players, Left Wing Kevin Roy (Roy pronounced ‘Wah’) is leading the team with 10 goals, however is being tailed by Right Wing Corey Tropp (8), Defenseman Brandon Montour (8) and Kalle Kossila (7). However, Tropp has the edge on being the points leader (26) as he has racked up 18 assists. Montour, with 15 assists (23 points) is fighting for that top spot. Brandon Montour has been a two-time all star for the team, and despite spending some time up in Anaheim, has been able to be among the top scorers on the team.
Three goalies on the team, Kevin Boyle, Matt Hackett, and Dustin Tokarski, have a combined 812 saves on the season! Tokarski is leading the team with 407 saves on the season, but Boyle has the highest save percentage with .915% of goal attempts saved! Some pretty impressive numbers. However, Hackett and Tokarski have been banged up recently, leaving Boyle to defend goals himself.
If you’re looking for which players to watch, Andrew Welinski (D), Corey Tropp (RW), Jaycob Megna (D), Jeff Schultz (D), Kevin Roy (LW), and Nate Guenin (D) are the only players on the roster who have made appearances in all 30 games this season. You can find a list of the rest of the players and their statistics here.
Now, before I get into all this, I wanna say I’m no team rep or advertiser trying to get you to go spend your money. I’m just a regular heartbroken San Diegan who was looking for a way to fill that void in my Charger-less life with something new and exciting. The San Diego Gulls seem like they put on a good show, they have good young talent, and they have awesome package deals that make taking your family or friends to games more affordable than seeing the Chargers lose 33-3 on the day they retired number 21. And now, I’m trying to share that with all of you.
Along with regular season tickets, there are mini plans, which allow you to pick the numbers of games you want to attend and allow you to pick your seats. Then there is the starter pack, which gives you eight tickets good for any regular season home game either in the Lower Bowl ($304) or the Terrace ($152).
The Bud Light Hockey Night Out gives you two terrace level tickets, two Bud Lights, and two hotdogs all for just $49 on select Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Or if you’re trying to take the family out for cheap, you can get four terrace seats, four sodas, and four hotdogs for $99 with the Coca-Cola Family Four Pack.
Although the team has only been here since October of 2015, they have already had a well-known impact on the San Diego community.
Straight from their community page on their website; “The San Diego Gulls take pride in serving the San Diego and Southern California community through a variety of charitable fundraisers, educational programs and outreach activities, as well as the San Diego Gulls Foundation. The San Diego Gulls strive to be actively involved in the local community, with the organization’s commitments ranging from in-kind donations, charity tickets, recreational and educational programs, and the dedicated involvement of players, coaches, broadcasters, staff and mascot.”
Also “Pass the Puck with Dallas Eakins” is a program that helps anyone learn the ways of coaching through coaching fellowship and coaching seminars.
The team just announced last week a partnership with Fox San Diego to start televising games in February. That is exciting news as we all will get a chance to fall in love with this team and get a closer look at each player.
— San Diego Gulls (@SDGullsAHL) January 10, 2017
I’m not to sure about you, but the Gulls have already started working their way into my everyday life, much like the Chargers did. The gray and black Ontario Reign are going to replace the Raiders, and blue and orange is going to be replacing blue and yellow.
The Gulls are San Diego’s newest team, as they are mine.