Gulls Secret Weapon: The San Diego Crowd

San Diego fan base is propelling the local hockey team to new heights

The San Diego Gulls didn't know they were going to be in the American Hockey League playoffs until the next-to-last day of the regular season, and they only got in because Colorado lost to San Jose.

The Chicago Wolves secured their spot in the playoffs with a couple of weeks left in the regular season when they beat Grand Rapids then went on to earn the #1 seed in the Western Conference.

So this is not really what a lot of people saw coming.

On Wednesday night the Gulls beat the Wolves 3-2 to take a 2-1 series lead and get themselves just two wins away from playing for a championship. Sometimes it's not the best team that wins a Cup. Sometimes it's the hottest team that wins a Cup and right now it's hard to argue that San Diego is not home to the hottest team in the AHL.

Oh, and the fans who pack that barn on Sports Arena Blvd. aren't too shabby, either.

"Coming into our home ice, obviously we’re very comfortable here. Our fans are excellent. I thought they were a big part of our game tonight," said Gulls head coach Dallas Eakins, who has long been appreciative of the support the Gulls get in America's most underrated hockey town.

7,345 fans filled Pechanga Arena for a Wednesday night match. They'll easily get between 10,000 and 12,000 for Games 3 and 4 on Friday and Saturday night and what's interesting about the Gulls clientele is it's not like the other crowds you'll see for Southern California sporting events. Every game at least 90% of the people there are rooting for the Gulls.

"They do a great job," said Gulls defenseman Trevor Murphy of the Gulls Grateful. "We definitely feel it on the bench and it doesn’t go unnoticed. You guys all saw that tonight."

Murphy rewarded the frenzied fans with the game-winning goal and an assist in Game 3. When you're talking about two very good and talented teams sometimes it's the tiniest edge that tips the scales. That edge just might be the 6th skater waving all those orange towels.

"It’s just a lot of fun. Two teams competing, going toe-to-toe," said Gulls forward Corey Tropp. "It’s a pretty good show for the fans. It’s playoff hockey."

San Diego hockey fans would love to see one more run of this show ... in the Calder Cup Final.

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