The Anaheim Ducks should be proud of their prospects. With a win on Wednesday night, the San Diego Gulls advance to the next round of the playoffs.
The future of the Anaheim Ducks looks brighter with every playoff game the San Diego Gulls win. After being on the brink of elimination in the final stretch of the regular season, the Gulls came into Round 1 with a vengeance, eliminating the San Jose Barracuda in Game 4, and are ready for their fierce flight to the Calder Cup.
The Calder Cup playoffs have been a nice treat for Ducks Nation after the offseason began early for the Anaheim Ducks. However, that isn’t to say that Round 1 didn’t leave all of us sitting on the edge of our seats and nervously biting our nails down to the quick.
The Incredible Comeback and a Tough Loss: Game 1 and 2
Playoff jitters seemed to get the best of the Gulls in Game 1, and early on, San Jose led the game 3-0. Kevin Boyle was yanked after the third goal was scored, and we have yet to see him on the ice again. A goal from Jacob Larsson lit a much-needed spark, and it wasn’t long before the Gulls tied the game with goals from Sam Carrick and Kiefer Sherwood, all of this happening within the confines of the first period.
Entering the second period, the Gulls and Baracudda played quite a bit of back and forth until a bad turn over resulted in another goal for San Jose. With 10 minutes left in the second period, another goal from their opponent increased their deficit to two goals. Corey Tropp put them back in the game after slamming a rebound home late in the second. With just a few minutes left, Chase De Leo tied the game with another beautiful goal.
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After neither team was able to capitalize on their opportunities in the third period, Game 1 headed into overtime. Kiefer Sherwood would end it early, giving the Gulls a 1-0 series lead after making an incredible comeback. The game was further proof that if you believe in your team, you can make anything happen.
Unfortunately, they were unable to carry the momentum into Game 2. A series of unlucky penalties, rookie mistakes, and lack of consistancy gave San Jose the opportunity to outsmart the Gulls and tie the series, 1-1, with a 5-3 win over San Diego.
Glass Stands Tall: Game 3
San Jose stuck early in Game 3 after an unfortunate turnover from defenseman, Trevor Murphy. It took them a majority of the first period to outsmart the Barracuda goaltender, Josef Korenar. However, Sam Steel tied it up in the final few minutes off a beautiful play from Sam Carrick. After a cross-checking penalty is called against the opposition, San Diego pulls ahead on the Power Play with a goal from Ben Street, giving them a 2-1 lead.
Chase De Leo and Justin Kloos broke out on a two-on-one late in the second, and a goal from De Leo gave the Gulls a two-goal advantage. Nevertheless, San Jose got one back quickly, closing the gap. Jeff Glass came up huge for the Gulls in the third period, managing to fend off the Baracudda. In order to try and tie it up, they pulled their goaltender.
More often than not, this results in an empty net goal, and the Gulls got lucky when Adam Cracknell slid it into the empty net after a beautiful set up from Sam Steel. A 4-2 win gave the Gulls a 2-1 series lead, putting them one within one win of moving on.
The Winner Takes it All: Game 4
Less than a minute into the opening period of Game 4, Glass allows San Jose to score, beginning the game just like every other in the series so far. With four minutes left in the first, the San Diego Gulls finally get their second shot on goal, which results in the snazzy game tieing goal from Sam Carrick.
Andy Welinksi finds the back of the net on a power play in the second period, giving the Gulls the lead. It was just two minutes later before Max Jones and Sam Steel would band together and the Gulls would pull even further ahead with the third goal of the night from Steel. San Jose managed to get one past Glass during the Sherwood minor, and the period ended with the Gulls ahead, 3-2.
With less than 15 minutes left in the game, Adam Cracknell tipped the puck past Korenar off a shot from Matt Berry. Despite the increased pressure, the Gulls stood tall. In an attempt to close the 4-2 gap, San Jose pulled their goaltender. Justin Kloos stole the puck right out from underneath the Baraccuda and sent it down low to Chase De Leo, who sent it straight into the empty net, giving the Gulls a 5-2 lead with less than two minutes left in regulation.
The final buzzer sounded, and the Gulls managed to fend off their fishy foe and ended Round 1 in incredible fashion. The team is getting some much-needed rest as they wait to hear whether they will face the Colorado Eagles or the Bakersfield Condors in Round 2.
Injuries and Further Reinforcements
During the second period in Game 4, Max Jones was helped off the ice after a nasty fall into the boards left him unable to bear any weight on his right leg. There has, unfortunately, been no further updates on Jones or his condition following Game 4 in San Jose. With the radio silence, it is doubtful that he will be available to start Round 2.
There is good news, however, Maxime Comtois and the Drummondville Voltigeurs are facing elimination from the Memorial Cup Playoffs with the Halifax Mooseheads leading the series 3-1. Tonight’s game will determine whether or not they move on to Game 6 or Drummondville is finished.
If they are eliminated, Comtois will have the opportunity to rejoin the San Diego Gulls in their flight for the Calder Cup. If Jones’ injury keeps him out for an extended period of time, Comtois’ return will be a breath of fresh air. However, if Jones makes a quick return, the Gulls are going to be an absolute force to be reckoned with.
Tickets for Round 2 of the Calder Cup Playoffs have already gone on sale. Unfortunately, the Gulls will not have the home-ice advantage this time around. However, Game’s 3 and 4 will be held at Pechanga Arena in San Diego on Wednesday, May 8th and Friday, May 10th.