Thursday, July 5, 2012
July by the Numbers crosses the United States for a stop in sunny San Diego, California for jersey #5.
The name San Diego Gulls dates back to the original Gulls franchise, which played in the Western Hockey League from 1966 to 1974. That franchise met it's demise with the arrival of the San Diego Mariners of the World Hockey Association, but the Mariners lasted just three seasons before folding, one of many teams to fall by the wayside in the unstable WHA.
Professional hockey would return to San Diego in 1990 when the International Hockey League would grant the city an expansion franchise, which would revive the name San Diego Gulls.
The team was reasonably competitive their first season with a 30-45-8 record, but missed out on the playoffs.
Russian import Dmitri Kvartalnov arrived for the Gulls second season and helped ignite their offense, which scored 67 goals more than the previous season, led by Kvartalnov's league leading 118 points. His 60 goals also led the IHL and were 16 more than his next closest pursuer.
IHL scoring champion Dmitri Kvartalnov
The Gulls roster also boasted future NHLer Ray Whitney, former New York Ranger Ron Duguay and Wayne Gretzky's brother Keith Gretzky and were led in goal by IHL veteran Rick Knickle.
The boost in offense resulted in a reversal of their record, finishing the season 45-28-9, a 31 point improvement.
With Kvartalnov off to join the Boston Bruins, the Gulls no longer had the flashy high scorer they enjoyed the previous season, but they roster was also no longer so top heavy in scoring. Their more balanced attack was led by Daniel Shank's 39 goals and 92 points, which placed him 5th in the league. Former Winnipeg Jet and Buffalo Sabre Scott Arniel was second with 35 goals and 83 points, one of six Gulls with over 70 points, compared to three the year before. Knickle again led the way in goal with 33 wins in 41 appearances as the Gulls soared to a league best 62 wins and 132 points, setting not only IHL records, but professional records as well, tying the 132 points by the 1976-77 Montreal Canadiens and holding the victory record outright until it was tied by the 1995-96 Detroit Red Wings.
The club started the season by going 26 games before losing in regulation for the first time and had winning streaks of 8, 9, 11 and 12 games and never lost more than 2 in a row all season under head coach Rick Dudley. The Gulls were able to load their roster with veteran and experienced players since they were not affiliated with any NHL club eager to have their young prospects developing in the minors. Starting the season with five players who had at least 10 seasons of NHL experience, the club was so dominant that the other IHL owners banded together and passed a rule which required teams to have at least six players with less than three years of professional experience.
As expected, the Gulls swept the Peoria Rivermen and ousted the Kansas City Blades in six to reach the Turner Cup Finals for the only time in their history, but were unceremoniously swept by the Fort Wayne Komets, scoring just 5 goals while giving up a massive 21.
The Gulls came back down to earth in 1993-94, winning 42 games while now being coached by former NHLer Harold Snepsts, their fourth coach in four seasons. Lonnie Loach led the club in scoring with 42 goals and 91 points from 74 games, as he also played three games with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim that season. The Las Vegas Thunder fell in five games to the Gulls, but they in turn were swept by the Atlanta Knights to put an end to their season.
They slipped to a 37-36-8 record in 1995-96 with Hubie McDonough leading the way with 43 goals and 98 points, 6th in the IHL. Allan Bester led the goaltenders with 58 appearances, winning 28, while four other goalies combined to win less than 10. Despite being up 2 games to 1, the Gulls lost the final two games of their best-of-five series, which proved to be the final games for the Gulls.
After finishing third in league attendance in 1992-93 with an average of 7,728, and over 7,100 the following season, the Gulls dropped to 4,660 during their final season as the franchise was then relocated two hours up the coast to Long Beach where they were renamed the Ice Dogs.
Today's featured jersey is a 1990-91 San Diego Gulls Peter Dineen jersey. While the Gulls only lasted five seasons, they left behind a legacy of a striking logo and attractive jerseys of red and black.
Today's video section is some good old IHL hockey from the mid-1990's with fists and mullets as the Gulls and Houston Aeros engage is a battle, which includes current Minnesota Wild head coach Mike Yeo, #8 for the Aeros.