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Ray Whitney Gets a Hat Trick as Gulls Roll Past Indianapolis

From Staff and Wire Reports

Coach Don Waddell made a statement to the press only moments after his youngest player, Ray Whitney, made a statement on the ice with a hat trick that powered the Gulls to a 5-1 victory Saturday over the Indianapolis Ice.

Whitney, 19, who scored his eighth, ninth and 10th goals in his 11th game since joining the International Hockey League Gulls Nov. 15, was the subject of rumors that dogged Waddell earlier this week. Waddell put an end to them after the Gulls (17-13-0) beat the Ice in front of 6,049 at the State Fairgrounds Coliseum.

“Ray Whitney belongs to the San Diego Gulls, period,” Waddell said. “There have never been any trade talks on my side at all.”

Rumors of some sort of deal to get Whitney, who scored 141 goals and 207 assists in three seasons at the junior level, out of San Diego started percolating during the Gulls’ two-game stint in Kansas City Wednesday and Friday. Kansas City’s parent NHL team, the San Jose Sharks, drafted Whitney first in the second round (23rd overall) last June, but Whitney refused to sign because the Sharks told him they would send him back to the juniors.

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His only options were to play out of the country or find a minor league team without an affiliation. Whitney, after spending two months with the Cologne Sharks in Germany, signed a one-year contract with the Gulls and plans to re-enter the NHL draft next year.

Waddell’s statement was made one day after the Gulls suffered their first shutout of the season, 2-0, to the Blades.

Whitney, playing center for the first time on the same line as Dmitri Kvartalnov and Robbie Nichols, scored at the 5:25 mark of the first period Saturday to give the Gulls a 1-0 lead. After Brad Lauer tied the score, 1-1, at 10:20, Soren True scored his 13th goal, the second of three Gull power-play goals, to make it 2-1.

Whitney scored twice more in the second period, taking a pass from Kvartalnov at 11:28 and getting an assist from Brian Straub at 16:14 to make it 4-1. Whitney became the fourth Gull player to score a hat trick. The others were Larry Floyd, Brent Sapergia and Kvartalnov (twice), who capped the scoring in the third period with his IHL-leading 25th goal.

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Whitney’s heroics helped the Gulls inch closer to the Peoria Rivermen and second place in the IHL West. Peoria (16-12-3) lost, 5-4, to Kansas City in a shootout Saturday and has 35 points. The Gulls have 34 points. The fourth-place Salt Lake Golden Eagles (15-16-3) picked up their 33rd point with a 4-3 shootout loss to the Phoenix Roadrunners.

The Ice fell to 9-13-4 as Gull goalie Rick Knickle stopped 32 shots to improve to 13-5 and 10-1 on the road. The Gulls are 10-6 on the road.

“Our power play was working tonight and it was a good thing,” Waddell said. “They tried to run us, slash us and hook us. If you don’t score if they give you the opportunities, they’ll keep doing it all night long.”


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