Gulls sweep weekend homestand
San Diego used to be a town that was filled with professional sports teams. The city is now left with the San Diego Gulls of the American Hockey League, a team currently in third place in the Western Conference behind the San Jose Barracuda and the Grand Rapids Griffins.
The team’s record stands at 30 wins and 14 losses. They played two games this weekend, one against the Texas Stars and the Rockford Icehogs.
University of San Diego senior Kevin Nelson regularly attends Gulls’ games and thinks that the organization has done a great job of integrating itself into the San Diego community.
“I’ve probably been to between 10 and 15 games in the past two years,” Nelson said. “It’s a great atmosphere, and it’s cheap. As a hockey fan, the quality is as close to top level as you’re going to find in the San Diego area.”
The first matchup of the Gulls’ weekend came on Friday, Feb. 23, against Texas. From the drop of the puck, this game seemed to be in hand, as the Gulls outscored the Stars in every period.
When the final buzzer sounded, the scoreboard read 6-2 in favor of the Gulls. Chris Wagner was the player of the game, who had two of the six goals. Andrew Welinski led the charge with three assists.
Goaltender Dustin Tokarski had a tremendous game defending the Gulls’ net, facing 27 shots and only allowing two go by him. The Gulls outplayed the Stars in every facet of the game.
While their game versus Texas was a bit of a cakewalk, the next game proved to be quite the nail biter. Entering the final period, the Gulls and Icehogs were knotted up at two goals a piece.
When the Gulls needed a goal, Tyler Morley came through and put the Gulls on top for good with 4:28 left in the game.
While Dustin Tokarski started the previous game, this time the Gulls went with Kevin Boyle. He too delivered a masterful performance. Of the 32 shots the Icehogs attempted, Boyle only let two into the net.
There was balanced scoring on Saturday, with Jaycob Megna, Brandon Montour and Morley each putting a puck in the net for the Gulls.
Megna did it all for the Gulls on this night, tallying a goal and also assisting one of his teammates.
The Icehogs put in a valiant effort but came up just a tad short. Kyle Baun and Ville Pokka both netted goals for the Icehogs, while goalie Jeff Glass stopped 28 of the 31 shots fired at him.
While each new game provides a new opponent and a new set of circumstances on the ice, the raucous setting provided by the Valley View Casino Center is one constant surrounding the Gulls’ season.
Nelson said one of the things that brings him back to the arena is the hype inside the building.
“The crowds and atmosphere can be really great and rowdy,” Nelson said. “It’s obviously not as large as an NHL game, and the stadium needs some real work, but there’s something about being in the little rinky dink Valley View Casino Center that makes the crowd get really into it. I’ve had a lot of fun going with friends. Everyone is willing to get into the game and it makes for some great experiences.”
So while we may not have an NFL team here anymore, Gulls games are a more than capable replacement.
Written by Jake Ellis, Contributor