The Gulls started the year 6-0, then became victims of their own success.
Teenage sensations Trevor Zegras and Jamie Drysdale, two of the top-50 prospects in hockey, were among the American Hockey League points leaders when they were called up to the NHL by the Ducks.
It took a while for the Gulls to find their feet again. They lost five straight and six out of seven games. This week they, as head coach Kevin Dineen says, got back to basics and it's working.
Saturday night's 2-1 win over Tucson was the Gulls 4th straight, moving them from 5th in the Pacific Division to 3rd and in control of a playoff spot.
Matt Lorito got the game-winner, the 15th of his career, in the 3rd period. Lorito has been impressing his head coach with his play and tenacity so he earned the opportunity to be in the spotlight.
"I was really happy with him. He'd been a healthy scratch a few games in a row and there's not a lot you ask about a guy when they're in that situation," says Gulls head coach Kevin Dineen. "But, when you're first on the ice for practice and the last one to leave you're just making a statement that you want in the lineup and he's demanding his spot. Good response by Matty."
If it hadn't been for Olle Eriksson Ek, the game might have been out of hand long before Lorito's goal. The 21-year-old goalie stopped 25-of-26 shots and has been between the pipes for all four wins.
San Diego goalies Lukas Dostal and Anthony Stolarz were also sent up to Anaheim so Ek has been forced into duty and the rookie has been more than up to the challenge.
"He's played awesome. He stepped right in and filled Dostal's role really well," says Gulls captain Sam Carrick. "Obviously, Dostal was playing well before he got called up. I think Olle has come right in and had a seamless transition."
Ek is the third goalie to win a game for San Diego and they've only played 23 times, an impressive showing of organizational depth. The Gulls can run their winning streak to five on Wednesday night against Ontario.