While the Anaheim Ducks may have met an early demise, the San Diego Gulls have been making waves in the Calder Cup Playoffs and will be advancing to the Western Conference Finals.
The 2018-19 postseason has been quite different for Ducks Nation than it has been years prior. Normally, we are so focused on the Anaheim Ducks and their playoff performance, that if we even remember to follow or cheer for the San Diego Gulls in the Calder Cup Playoffs, our priorities still lie with the big club.
However, with the Anaheim Ducks hopes at a playoff run dying well before the February Trade Deadline, this has allowed Ducks Nation to invest their undivided attention into watching the San Diego Gulls wreck havoc in the Calder Cup Playoffs. So far, the Ducklings have not disappointed.
Round 1 didn’t seem like much of a challenge; they knocked the San Jose Baraccuda out of the playoffs with ease. All they needed was 4 games to get the job done. Round 2 would see the San Diego Gulls face the Bakersfield Condors, the AHL affiliate of the Edmonton Oilers. Ending the regular season, the Condors were the best teams in the Pacific Divison, and for good reason. Nevertheless, if we’ve learned anything at all over the past decade of watching playoff hockey it’s that playoff hockey is a different beast altogether.
Anything can happen in playoff hockey, and the San Diego Gulls bested the Bakersfield Condors in 6 games. Bakersfield put up one heck of a fight, and for that, we applaud them. Round 2 started off with a bang, ushering in the longest game in the San Diego Gulls franchise history and it just got more exciting from there.
The Playoff Game that Wouldn’t End: Game 1 & 2
It was the AHL playoff game that wouldn’t end. 7 periods of phenomenal hockey, 135 minutes of ice time, and just one goal to determine the fate of the entire game. Game 1 of Round 2 started on a Friday night and lasted well into Saturday morning.
The game started a little slow, both teams having their changes but neither being able to convert. Jeff Glass, the San Diego Gulls playoff hero, continued to stand tall and keep the Condors off the board well into the second period. However, someone had to strike first, and Bakersfield netted a short-handed goal with only 7:51 left to go in the middle period.
The Gulls were heading into the third period on the power play. It took Justin Kloos just 32 seconds to score the power-play goal on a turnover, tieing the game 1-1. Bakersfield took the lead yet again, scoring their second goal at 4:22 of the third. The Gulls put the pedal to the metal and answered back just 11 seconds later. Ben Street found Sam Carrick on the back door, and Carrick tied the game once again.
The buzzer sounded, regulation ended, and the Gulls and the Condors headed into overtime. Overtime ended, 2OT ended, 3OT ended, and still, nothing. Quadruple overtime started as Saturday began, and it was clear that both teams were tired. Yet, neither was willing to just lie down and take it.
As the time winded down on the clock, it seemed as though 5OT could become a possibility. However, with less than 6 minutes left on the clock, in his AHL return and AHL Playoff debut, one of the Anaheim Ducks most promising prospects, Maxime Comtois, found the back of the Condors net and won Game 1 for the San Diego Gulls. After over 135 minutes of hockey played, this game not only became the longest in franchise history but cracked the Top 15 as one of the longest games played in AHL history.
Less than 24 hours later, and the Gulls and Condors were back on the ice for Game 2. It was evident that the Condors were exhausted from the 4OT game the night before, but the Gulls came in swinging, winning Game 2, 4-1, giving them a 2-0 series lead as they headed home for Game 3.
You Can’t Win Them All: Games 3 & 4
Although it was not a surprise, the Condors would, unfortunately, come back and win Game 3 on San Diego ice in overtime. Nevertheless, this game wouldn’t be without its surprises. The Gulls came back from a 3-1 deficit to lead the Condors 6-4. In the final minutes of the period, Bakersfield tied it up and went on to win the game 39 seconds into OT.
The Gulls came back with a vengeance in Game 4, winning 4-2. Goals from Adam Cracknell, Sam Carrick, and Kevin Roy led them to a 3-1 series lead over the Condors. Only one game stood between them and advancing to the Western Conference Finals for the first time in franchise history.
Moving On: Games 5 & 6
Game 5 led the series back to Bakersfield and the Gulls were looking to put the final nail in the Condors coffin. The Condors struck first, scoring a power-play goal during the Welinski minor. With only a single goal from Kevin Roy in the second period, regulation ended with a 1-1 tie game. For the third time in the series, they were headed to overtime. Overtime came and went, and neither team was able to finish.
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At this point, it was anyone’s game. Both teams were 1-1 when it came to winning in overtime. The Gulls and Condors were no strangers to 2OT, and both teams went into the period ready to win. Jeff Glass continued to stand tall for the Gulls, but unfortunately, the Condors scored with less than 7 minutes left in 2OT. The series was headed back to San Diego for Game 6.
Game 6 was the night the San Diego Gulls needed to clip the Condors wings. If Bakersfield forced a Game 7, there is no telling what could happen. Fortunately, the San Diego Gulls came up big for Ducks Nation and gave us an incredible show.
Chase De Leo opened the scoring 46 seconds into the first. Two goals from Kalle Kossila, and goals from Max Comtois, Sam Carrick, and Ben Street led to the Condors ultimate demise. Bakersfield’s Calder Cup dreams came crashing to a halt and the San Diego Gulls would advance to the Western Conference Finals for the first time since moving to San Diego.
San Diego Gulls Playoff Leaders
The future of the Anaheim Ducks begins to look brighter with every playoff game. During their 10 playoff games this postseason, the San Diego Gulls have collectively scored 42 goals. Each member of the team has been an integral factor in their winning formula, but these players are currently the Top 10 playoff leaders in addition to Jeff Glass’ phenomenal performance in net.
Jeff Glass: 2.25 GAA, SV% of .920%
Adam Cracknell: 12 points (6g, 6a)
Sam Carrick: 12 points (5g, 7a)
Sam Steel: 10 points (4g, 6a)
Ben Street: 8 points (2g, 6a)
Justin Kloos: 7 points (2g, 5a)
Andy Welinski: 7 points (2g, 5a)
Kiefer Sherwood: 6 points (3g, 3a)
Maxime Comtois: 6 points (3g, 3a)
Kalle Kossila: 6 points (3g, 3a)
Chase De Leo: 5 points (5g, 0a)
The Western Conference Finals
The San Diego Gulls will face the Chicago Wolves, an affiliate of the Vegas Golden Knights, in the Calder Cup Western Conference Finals this year. The Wolves defeated the Iowa Wild in Game 6 of their respective series, and as the best teams in the Western Conference this season, they are going to give the San Diego Gulls a run for their money.
In Round 3, the Gulls will be playing against the likes of 27-year-old Daniel Carr, 2011 3rd round draft pick and offensive dynamo, T.J. Tynan, and on-ice German/Canadian visionary, Brooks Macek. Oscar Dansk will likely start in net for a majority of their games, and the Gulls are going to need to be smart if they have any hopes of besting him.
The Flight to the Cup continues in Chicago on Friday, May 17th at 5:00 pm PST:
Game 1 @ Chicago: Friday, May 17, 5:00 pm PST
Game 2 @ Chicago: Saturday, May 18, 5:00 pm PST
Game 3 @ San Diego: Wednesday, May 22, 7:00 pm PST
Game 4 @ San Diego: Friday, May 24, 7:00 pm PST
*Game 5 @ San Diego: Saturday, May 25, 7:00 pm PST
*Game 6 @ Chicago: Tuesday, May 28, 5:00 pm PST
*Game 7 @ Chicago: Wednesday, May 29, 5:00 pm PST
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