The San Diego Gulls home schedule begins this weekend with two games against division rival Texas.
The Stars have begun the season with a pair of 6-5 victories against the Chicago Wolves. The Gulls only game of the season was also a high scoring affair, a 7-6 victory in Tuscon. The Texas offense has been paced by Jason Dickinson (3 G, 1A) and Travis Morin (1G, 3A). Kevin Roy (2G, 1A), and Nic Kerdiles(1G, 2A) were the leaders of the Gulls’ attack versus Tucson.
The Stars at the NHL level have been one of the most dangerous teams in terms of goal scoring in recent years, but as an organization they lack depth on the blue line and in the net. The Gulls are also without premium options defensively, other than top prospect Jacob Larsson. So look for the high scoring to continue this weekend. Another thing to expect this weekend are big crowds at the Valley View Casino Center. The Gulls have been one of the league leaders in attendance over the last two seasons, and home openers are typically packed.
Gulls Boost Goalie Depth
Newly acquired goalie, Leland Irving, will be competing with Kevin Boyle for the No.1 goalie role in San Diego, and hopefully that competition will lead to a bit better defending than the six goals against on opening night. Boyle posted a strong .924 save percentage in 19 games with the Gulls last season, but had a rough first game of the season and gave up six goals on 36 shots. Hockey’s Future evaluates the 25-year-old Boyle as having a talent score at 7.5 out of 10, which means his ceiling is either a No.1 goalie at the NHL level, or a journeyman No.1 goalie. However his probability of success is a D, indicating he’s a long shot to reach that potential. I’ve seen him play really well in person, but I’ve also seen him play not so well.
Bringing in Leland Irving, who is 29, offers a little more stability at the position for the Gulls. Irving has been serviceable at the AHL level throughout his career, posting save percentages in the 90-91 range. Last season, he played in Finland and put up a strong .923% in 35 games. In his prime, and off a strong season abroad, the Gulls will hope he can continue to build on that momentum. It would make sense for him and Boyle to each start one of the two games this weekend, and it’ll be interesting to see if Boyle can rebound, or if Irving takes a step forward in the battle for playing time on his new team.
Players To Watch
Nic Kerdiles (Top prospect)
Jacob Larsson (Top prospect)
Jason Dickinson (Top prospect). Stars beat writer Mike Heika believes Dickinson has the best chance to play the most in the NHL this season of any Stars prospect.
Curtis McKenzie (Played 53 games in the NHL last season)
Gavin Bayreuther (Top prospect)
Denis Gurianov (Top prospect and 12th overall pick in 2015)
HOW TO WATCH
Tonight’s game will be on TV in the San Diego area on Fox 5, which means no excuse for not supporting the Gulls.