American Hockey League Ducks
The Gulls (0-1) open their home slate Friday at Pechanga. Photo credit:

The San Diego Gulls return to Pechanga Arena at 7 p.m. Friday to face the Stockton Heat in their 2021 home opener.

They fell 5-2 in their first game of the season at the Ontario Reign, a loss that left the Gulls with a sour feeling.

“We played a hockey club that was way more in-sync, you could see a feel, a build-up of last year,” head coach Joel Bouchard said following the loss. “They were very comfortable. It was a very bad game for us, not the one we wanted. We’ve got a lot of work to do.”

Defenseman Brogan Rafferty paced the Gulls offensively while both Jacob Perreault and Vinni Lettieri scored for San Diego. Goaltender Olle Eriksson Ek stopped 27-of-32 shots.

“We’ve got so many guys, we’ve got two good units out and there’s still guys not playing on the power play that should be,” Perreault said. “We’ve got a really special group.”

Sam Carrick returns to captain the Gulls for a third consecutive season. He recently reached several milestones, including his 300th AHL point (Mar. 24 at Ontario) and his 200th AHL game (Feb. 27 at Henderson), becoming the third player in Gulls history to do so.

Carrick enters the season as the organization’s all-time leading point scorer (85-95=180).

In addition, six players made their Gulls debut – forwards Alekander Volkov, Morgan Adams-Moisan, Vincent Marleau, Danny O’Regan and Buddy Robinson and defensemen Brogan Rafferty. Goaltender Francis Marotte will back up Eriksson Ek.

As the American Hockey League affiliate of the Anaheim Ducks though, the roster can shift quickly. On Tuesday, the Ducks recalled Carrick and left wing Sonny Milano. The Ducks also reassigned left wing Maxim Golod to San Diego from the Tulsa Oilers, while the Gulls recalled left wing Greg Printz from Tulsa.