Playoff puck picks up intensity with each game and each round, as the San Diego Gulls skate into the second round of the American Hockey League (AHL) playoffs, the team is feeling the uptick.
“Hockey in the playoffs, regardless of what level it is, the competitive energy always seems to ramp up a little bit. That’s what makes it so enjoyable to play. I think it just brings the best out of each guy to compete at their highest ability,” said Corey Tropp, Gulls forward.
“Best time of the year, you want to win that trophy. It’s why you play,” said Gulls center Chase De Leo.
The Gulls will open the Pacific Division Finals on the road against the Bakersfield Condors. Game 1 is Friday May 3rd, game 2 is Saturday May 4th. That will be back to back games, after 8 straight days off.
Gulls forward Ben Street admitted the long layoff is not something players are used to, “It’s a little bit weird with our playoff schedule, lower on the totem pole in terms of how the building’s get filled. We’ll take it, it’s nice to rest up a little bit, but at the same time it’d sure be nice to get right back at it. “
Gulls forward Max Jones welcomes the long break between games, “Right now, for me, just to get some rest and try to heal some of the minor bumps and bruises is nice. For everyone actually. At the same time, you kind of want to keep cruising, keep that same mentality and keep your game going. You usually just want to keep playing, but you find that meat in the middle there in most situations and you have to make the best of it.”
Bakersfield is the top seed after winning the Pacific Division regular season championship, the Condors also had an AHL record 17 game win streak during the season. While, the Condors dominated most opponents during the regular season that wasn’t the case against the Gulls, San Diego and Bakersfield played their 12 games to a draw. The Gulls were 4-4-2 against the Condors.
Tropp believes that regular season success could translate to post season success, “ If we play to our standard and our level, then we can compete against them. It’s going to be tight and we’re excited for the opportunity to play them.”
Gulls coach Dallas Eakins has nothing but puck praise for the Condors, “They weren’t the best team in the division by accident. They’re a team that can keep the puck out of the net. Their special teams can hurt you, they can score. They’re a snake with many heads so we’re going to have to play an extremely disciplined game. I’m not talking just about not taking penalties, managing the puck, doing our best to give them nothing. We certainly have our hands full here. “
The series will shift back to San Diego for game 3 on May 8th and game 4 on May 10th.