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Round Two Preview: Gulls vs Condors
By Thomas Harrington
For the third time in four years, the San Diego Gulls are off to the second round of the Calder Cup Playoffs. Their opponent: the Pacific Division regular season champions, the Bakersfield Condors. The Condors defeated the Colorado Eagles in four games in the first round of the playoffs.
Let’s take a look at how the Gulls and Condors match up.
Kevin Boyle was San Diego’s starter in game one against San Jose. However, he allowed three goals on six shots and was pulled just over six minutes into the game. Ever since, Jeff Glass has been in net for every game, and will likely be the starter for the second round as well. After taking over, Glass went 3-1 in four games. He had a goals against average of 2.32 and a save percentage of .917. He was at his best in the third period of games three and four in San Jose. With the Barracuda pressing to tie in both contests, he came up with some truly highlight-worthy saves. Overall, he faced 108 shots and made 99 saves. For the Gulls to beat Bakersfield, they will likely need Glass to be even better. If Glass does falter, Boyle should be ready to take back the net. Despite his poor start to game one, his being pulled was more about changing the complexion of the game, and it worked: the Gulls roared back to tie the game twice and win in overtime. If the Gulls need Boyle in this series, I’m confident that he’ll put on a much better performance.
Shane Starrett was Bakersfield’s starter in the first round. He had a 3-1 record, a goals against average of 2.28, and a save percentage of .903. After Starrett, Bakersfield didn’t use many other goaltenders during the regular season. The most well-known would be Al Montoya, but he only played in 11 games. Still, if something happens to Starrett, Montoya would probably step in to fill the void.
The Gulls played seven defensemen in the first round: Jacob Larsson, Andy Welinski, Jake Dotchin, Simon Benoit, Jaycob Megna, Trevor Murphy, and Josh Mahura. In the first two games, the Gulls dressed all seven defensemen, but scratched Dotchin in games three and four, going with the traditional 12 forwards and six defensemen. Larsson led the defense with three points, and Mahura was the only one to record no points in the opening round series. Welinski scored his first career playoff goal, a huge goal in game four against San Jose. As a group, they struggled at times, particularly early in every game, as the Gulls gave up the first goal in every game of the series. In three of the four games, the Gulls were behind less than four minutes into the contest. The good news is that the longer the games went on, the better San Diego’s defense played. Regardless, the Gulls’ defensive unit is going to need to be much better against Bakersfield.
The Condors also used seven defensemen in their opening round series: Evan Bouchard, William Lagesson, Keegan Lowe, Ryan Stanton, Ethan Bear, Logan Day, and Caleb Jones. Despite playing in only two games, Bouchard led the group with four points. Bouchard was playing in the OHL, but his junior career has come to an end, so he joined the Condors and played in the final two games of the first round. He’s a former first round pick and his offensive skills are through the roof. San Diego will need to pay attention to him. Both Lagesson and Lowe had three points and every other member of Bakersfield’s blueline recorded at least one point in the first round.
The Gulls used 12 forwards in the first round, and every single one of them recorded at least one point against San Jose. Sam Steel and Sam Carrick led the team with six points each, and Chase De Leo had a goal in every single game of the series. 11 of the 12 forwards played in all four games; Jack Kopacka played in only the final two games of the series after being scratched for the first two. The Gulls have received some good news heading in to round two: Max Jones will be healthy enough to play after being injured in game four against San Jose. He had four assists in that series. Maxime Comtois’ junior career recently came to an end, and he’ll be joining the Gulls as well, which should make this team even more dangerous offensively.
Brad Malone led Bakersfield with five points in the first round, while Malone, Patrick Russell, and Evan Polei were tied for the team lead in goals with two each. The Condors also used 12 forwards, but only six of them recorded at least one point, while the other six were kept off the scoresheet. Bakersfield’s top two scorers from the regular season, Tyler Benson and Cooper Marody, combined for only two assists in the first round. Given that they collectively scored 130 points in the regular season, expect both of them to be much more dangerous in the second round.
The Season Series
The Gulls and Condors faced off 10 times against each other in the regular season, with the Gulls winning six of them. However, in two of Bakersfield’s four wins, the Condors scored a combined 13 goals. This is a team that knows how to score, and they really showed it in those two games. There’s a reason why they finished on top of the Pacific Division in the regular season.
In net, I don’t think either team has a large advantage, though the fact that San Diego has two goalies that they can rely on could be huge. Defensively, especially with the addition of Bouchard, the advantage goes to Bakersfield. Offensively, with all 12 forwards getting at least a point, the advantage goes to San Diego and their immense forward depth. Regardless of what happens, this should be a great series.
Game one is this Friday, with game two following on Saturday. Both of those games will be in Bakersfield. Games three and four will move to San Diego, and they will be played next Wednesday and Friday. If necessary, game five will be on May 11th back in Bakersfield, and game six will be May 13th in San Diego. If the series goes all the way, game seven will be in Bakersfield on May 15th.
Here is the Round 2 schedule and media coverage.
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May 1st, 2019