Gulls Lose Players, Still Keep Winning

San Diego's hockey team is on an improbable streak of success

Before Wednesday night’s game against Texas the San Diego Gulls lost a bunch of quality players.

Forwards Troy Terry and Max Jones were called up by the Anaheim Ducks and center Joe Blandisi was traded to the Penguins. That means three of their top five scorers were suddenly gone.

And somehow they didn’t skip a beat.

The Gulls beat the Stars 2-1 to extend their home winning streak to six games and run their standings points streak to 15 in a row, a franchise record and the longest in the American Hockey League this season. The Gulls have had 47 different players dress for games this year, the most in the AHL … and they still have the 2nd-best winning percentage in the Western Conference.

How exactly are they pulling this off? The hallmarks of any successful team: talent and good coaching.

The Ducks have infused a bunch of talent into their system. Veteran coach Dallas Eakins teaches the system extremely well and it shows when someone is inserted into it. One of the guys who joined the Gulls on Wednesday is Patrick Eaves. The veteran of 14 NHL seasons, Eaves is in San Diego on an injury rehab assignment. He’s played in multiple Stanley Cup Playoff games so he understands what a good team looks like.

The Gulls are a good team.

“I can see why they’ve had success recently,” said Eaves. “They’re all dialed in. Everyone is on the same page. It was fun to be a part of. I just tried to jump in and keep the snowball going. I had a lot of fun. It was fun the way we played and I just enjoyed the whole night.”

Playing in front of a large, engaged crowd helps, too. The Gulls continue to lead the Conference in attendance and Pechanga Arena has become one of the toughest places to win in the entire league.

“Our fan support is amazing,” said Eakins. “They’re always with us, even on our down times. They’re always out there pushing us along. We’re very comfortable here, we love playing at home.”

Their next game is Saturday night at home against Bakersfield and the barn is going to be packed again because … it’s Star Wars Night. The Gulls will be wearing special Star Wars sweaters depicting the original movie poster for Episode IV - A New Hope and auctioning them off for charity.

And probably celebrating another win.

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