PREVIEW: Gulls and Silver Knights spend four-game series at Orleans Arena

March 19, 2022

By Paige Burnell/SanDiegoGulls.com

Things only get better with time, and that certainly applies to the intensifying rivalry between the San Diego Gulls and the Henderson Silver Knights as the four-game regular season series draws to a close. moves to Orleans Arena for its third contest (7 p.m. PT; TV: AHL TV; RADIO: Gulls Audio Network).

The Gulls beat the Silver Knights 3-1 last night for their fourth consecutive overall win and fifth straight victory over the Silver Knights, beating Henderson 24-7 and already winning the season series.

‘Emotion is like the playoffs,’ Gulls head coach says Joel Bouchard noted. “You play the same team and you know, you win two, so we expect them to come out really strong tomorrow at home. It’s that fine line where you always want guys to protect themselves, to stick together, but don’t be over the top and still play with the concept and with the dashboard and everything, which I think our guys did well.”

One of those concepts is a commitment to keep going inside, using a grittier style of play to take advantage of opportunities in front of opponents’ nets. San Diego highlighted that in last night’s win, with Jacob Perreault score the type of “fat goal” coaches love at this time of year.

“Yeah, you like them,” Bouchard said. “You like to play indoors, as they say. And it was a lot of that and obviously the game kind of has a different way but there’s always that you get to the playoffs or you go deep into the season there’s always that way of getting those difficult goals and those goals inside and converging on the net. So, offense comes in different ways. I think we got better at some of the strategies we brought in, but this strategy is still good.

Perreault has points in consecutive games and 2-6=8 points in his last 10 games. Ditto for his teammates. Alexandre Limoges (0-6=6) and Benoit-Olivier Groulx (4-2=6), both of whom have assists for six points in their last five games.

“Honestly, I think we just had chemistry,” Perreault said of his line. “We all see the ice pretty well, so we try to move the puck as much as possible, to keep moving. Yeah, I mean, it’s hard to say, but we have a lot of different skills and we can all use each other to make games and stuff. So, I really liked this line.

Nicolas Brouillard continued his solid game, scoring the first shorthanded goal of his American Hockey League career in last night’s win. With 4-2=6 in his last four games, Brouillard tonight leads all AHL defensemen in goals (12) and is tied for eighth in points (12-22=34). He leads the Gulls in assists and points and ranks second on the team in goals.

The offense backed up Lukas Dostal, who continues his excellent run, stopping 22 of 23 shots yesterday to earn his third straight win. The Czech Republic keeper is unbeaten against Henderson this season, posting a 1.40 goals-against-average (GAA) and 0.950 save percentage (SV%).

His excellent play is key to San Diego’s recent success on the penalty kill. The Gulls are 6-6 (100%) in the last two games against Henderson and 13-14 (92.9%) in their last five games.

“First of all, it starts with the goaltender,” Bouchard said when asked about the team’s penalty kill. “We’re going to give a few shots, it’s going to happen so the goalkeeper has been good and… I put the bar high on every detail and it’s demanding at the start of the year, but as you can see things like the sticks and angling and all that…and then when you get to the PK (penalty kill) when you’re out of men, those things are important I like our aggression, our trigger points when we know when it’s time to go. That being said, it’s always to do it all over again the next day.”

The increasingly tight playoff race — San Diego is just four points behind sixth-placed Henderson — has allowed the Gulls to play at their best.

“Yeah, I feel like the whole team buzzed a lot,” Perreault said. “So our feet are moving, we’re making plays, our zone entries are really good, our escapes, we’re working harder than the other team, I feel like we’re a skilled team, so once we work hard and outperform the other team, there is a good chance of winning the match.”