Gulls in Driver's Seat in Western Conference Final

San Diego earns a road split and gets 3 straight at home

Over the weekend the Gulls and Wolves split the first two games of the Calder Cup Western Conference Final in Chicago. That's exactly what the Gulls were shooting for.

Sure, they had a chance to win a pair (Game 1 was an overtime loss after surrendering a late goal that tied it) but getting one means they have a chance to win the series at Pechanga Arena, the loudest barn in the American Hockey League.

Game 3 is set for Wednesday night while Game 4 is on Friday with Game 5 on Saturday. All three drop the puck at 7:00 p.m. and all three are going to be a-rockin'.

"It's gonna be awesome," said goalie Kevin Boyle, who pitched a 3-0 shutout to win Game 2 in the Windy City. "We saw it all throughout playoffs so far. The crowd's been incredible and given us so much momentum every game. They hype that we get from them every night is definitely a huge advantage for us."

This series is interesting, not just because the winner goes to the Calder Cup Final to play for a league championship. Both of these teams are in the Western Conference but until Game 1 on Friday night they'd never played each other before.

So there's a serious learning curve, especially when you consider the Gulls played San Jose and Bakersfield ... their opponents in the first 2 rounds ... more than 10 times this season alone. Obviously the Gulls learned quickly what the Wolves like to do.

"They're very patient with the puck in their transition game," said forward Adam Cracknell. "That's been a bit of an adjustment for us. I think out here [in the Pacific Division] a lot of the teams play quick and keep you on your toes."

The Gulls made the necessary adjustments even if it wasn't always a comfortable process.

"I don't like the feeling I had in Game 1 of trying to figure out are we playing very well or are they off? Are they now playing very well and we've taken a step back?" said head coach Dallas Eakins. "But it is refreshing to really have to get after it from a pre-scout point of view."

Chicago is the number one seed in the Western Conference while the Gulls didn't secure their playoff spot until the final weekend of the regular season. Getting one in their house, where the Wolves were on a 6-game winning streak, showed San Diego they can play with anyone.

"It just proved to us that we have what it takes," said Boyle. "I think that's good for us confidence-wise moving forward."

Contact Us