New Goalie Helps Lead Gulls Hot Streak

Jhonas Enroth's arrival has helped fuel San Diego's 11-game points run

The hottest team in hockey plays in San Diego.

The Gulls are on an 11-game points streak, meaning they’ve won 10 of their last 11 and the only loss they suffered was in a shootout against the 1st place Ontario Reign on the road.

The timing of the Gulls hot streak could not be any better as they try to fill the vacuum left by the departed National Football League team. Part of the recent run of success came with the arrival of a new goalie.

“I’ve had a pretty good start here but I think the team was playing pretty well before I got here,” said Jhonas Enroth, who is being far too humble. “Good timing I guess.”

Enroth landed in San Diego on January 11th. That was the second game of their current points streak. The Anaheim Ducks (the Gulls parent club) acquired him in a trade with the Maple Leafs. Enroth was winless in four starts for Toronto and really struggling between the pipes in a bad situation.

But sometimes you just need a change of scenery to get your mojo back. Since the trade Jhonas has won all seven of his starts, allowing just seven goals in the process.

“Toronto didn’t really work out for me,” said Enroth. “I’ve heard a lot of good things about San Diego and so far it’s been great here. I think both of my games (at Valley View Casino Center) we’ve had over 12,000 people in the stands so it’s been great. It’s been a good time for me.”

San Diego sports fans have gone all in on their hockey team but that’s not surprising. The Gulls lead the American Hockey League’s Western Conference in attendance with 8,437 per game. Enroth is happy with the turnout and his head coach is happy with him.

“He’s been excellent,” said Gulls coach Dallas Eakins of his new top netminder. “He came out of a tough situation in Toronto where he wasn’t being used very much. It's been just a great acquisition.”

Just like in the NHL, the AHL features a lot of close games. During their streak, five of the 11 games have been decided by one goal. A good, experienced goaltender can make all the difference in the world.

“That key save at a key time can often put you on the right side of the ledger,” said Eakins.

Enroth’s ability to keep the puck out of the net is just part of his value. He has six years of NHL experience. Inserting a guy like that to the lineup full of young prospects has a trickle-down effect for the rest of the roster.

“He just has this calmness to him,” said Gulls defenseman Jeff Schultz. “Playing in front of him I’ve seen it a lot. He doesn’t panic when we’re scrambling out there. He plays the puck at the right time, covers the puck at the right time, and that’s what we need.”

Enroth’s impact coupled with stark improvement from their penalty killing and power play units has helped put the Gulls within striking distance of first place in the Pacific Division.

San Diego now has four games in a week, three of them on the road against division rivals (Bakersfield, San Jose, Ontario). They return to Valley View Casino Center to face the Condors on Sunday evening at 5:00.

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