San Diego Gulls Make History with Repeat Title
April 2nd, 2018
History is not made in one game. History is not made in one day. History is not made in one year.
History is built on the accumulation of time. It is as elusive as it is magnificent.
The 2018 San Diego Gulls have etched their names in history, both literally and figuratively, as they became the first team in AFHL history to win two AFHL Stanley Cup championships after defeating the Washington Wolfpack, 7-3, on Sunday in Game 7 of a seesaw series that pitted a high-scoring heavyweight against an upstart challenger.
It is an achievement that will live forever.
Over the years, the San Diego Gulls have gone through an ever-changing cast of players but the one staple has always been GM/Coach Lucas Main.
“We knew it was going to be tough all year, but we just tried to keep with it,” Lucas said amidst the locker room celebration. “We had a lot of injuries and things like that. We just kept finding ways. That was really what we did all season, all playoffs. It’s great to be able to do it.”
Along with the team, Lucas Main has become the first GM in AFHL history – eight years – to win two AFHL Stanley Cups as well as the first to win back to back AFHL Stanley Cups.
“You might have a small window to win a Stanley Cup,” Lucas said. “I feel fortunate, but I also understand how difficult it was so you just want to try to make the best of it.”
Gulls goaltender John Gibson was named the MVP of the Playoffs. He posted a 1.97 GAA and a save percentage of .931% in the Finals.
“I think I’m just really happy for this group,” Gibson said after skating around the rink with the Stanley Cup. “A good chunk of the guys were returning from last year, so it’s pretty special. We set out to try to go back-to-back. We knew it was going to be pretty difficult, but I think that’s probably where the most joy comes out of is just knowing how difficult it is to go back-to-back and knowing that we overcame all those things. It’s a pretty special group, I’ll say that.”
Gulls forward Nikita Kucherov shed tears of joy in his post-game interview.
“I think this feeling right here. You can’t match this,” said an emotional Nikita Kucherov. “It’s what it’s all about, and to be able to share that with a group of guys, a lot of them guys that you’ve played a long time with and understand how difficult it is and what you’ve had to go through and that kind of thing, share it with family and friends, that’s what it’s about.”
After hugging GM Lucas Main for what seemed like five minutes, Gulls forward Evgeni Malkin was asked what words were shared between the two.
Malkin paused for a moment and responded with one phrase: “Three-peat.”
“It stings,” said Wolfpack goaltender Martin Jones. “I think the biggest thing we’ve got to take from this is, remember the feeling. That’s what’s going to drive us … We’re going to be back here again next year.”
Washington GM Rick Charron was a hard man to find after the loss. Media eventually caught up to him a couple hours later outside the Wolfpack locker room.
“It’s hard to describe. You dream about lifting the AFHL Stanley Cup for so many years, and the dream has happened probably a million times for most of us. Being that close, being one game away from lifting the Stanley Cup, it [stinks]. But for us, we did so many things well and this is such a tremendous run for our team, and we have such a good well balanced team. I think we gained a ton of experience from this run and we are going to work hard to get back here.”
The Gulls victory parade will be 11 a.m. next Wednesday, the city announced via Twitter early Monday afternoon.
Although a formal release is still upcoming, the route is expected to remain the same as last year.
The city expects as many as 500,000 people will gather along the parade routes and related celebrations, said Alexander Costa, the chief operations officer under the San Diego Mayor. Costa said that would rank the crowd total larger than last year.