SAN DIEGO, Calif. – In what has been referred to as the bizzaro upside-down season, the Gulls have stormed out of the gates with a 3-0 start. Through three games they sit tied atop the Pacific Division by points percentage with the Henderson Silver Knights and first equal league-wide in points with the Chicago Wolves.
They are playing fun-to-watch hockey and the success of their story so far surrounds youngsters Trevor Zegras and Lukas Dostal.
Game 1: 4-1 Win over the Bakersfield Condors
- An opening season game that Gulls dominated from start to finish. The first line with Trevor Zegras getting it done with appearances by Jacob Perreault and Jack Badini on the other lines.
Game 2: 4-3 Win over the Bakersfield Condors
- More of a group effort this time as Jamie Drysdale netted his first AHL goal amongst further scoring from the first line. Lukas Dostal didn’t play his best game, but the Gulls’ depth on offense picked up the slack. Zegras again the standout player among his peers.
Game 3: 2-1 Win over the Ontario Reign
- The Lukas Dostal show as the young Czech netminder saw two separate five on three penalty kills and stopped 26 shots in the win. The first line unable to get on the scoreboard but heroic efforts from the Gulls defense (Josh Mahura and Keegan Lowe providing the goals) and more defensive-minded forwards (Antoine Morand and BO Groulx with big games) combined for the win.
The Bakery Is Closed
Lukas Dostal has caught the attention of not only the league but several respected hockey writers. He has had a dream North American debut – carrying over the same impossible numbers he was putting up in the Finnish elite league the past two seasons. He currently leads the AHL in wins and games played while sitting second in Save Percentage with 0.956 and is third in GAA with 1.67 goals allowed per game. It seems the pre-draft concerns about his size may be melting away under his early hot streak. No more Dough (his name is pronounced DOUGH-STAL) for you, the Bakery is closed.
All About The Z
Trevor Zegras has been the other side of this feel-good buddy-bop series to start the year. The Ducks’ ninth overall pick in 2019 is second in the league in points with five points in three games. The Wolves Seth Jarvis recently pipped him for the lead, the Carolina Hurricanes prospect has six points in one more game played than Zegras. Oh yeah, and he won the AHL player of the week for the first week of the season. Anaheim’s top center prospect now has his own #FreeZegras campaign lead by the NHL Network’s Kevin Weekes and has more than a few fans – celebrity and otherwise – wondering why he has not been called up to the Ducks yet. It feels like an inevitability but for now, let’s just enjoy him while we can Gulls fans.
One surprising stat lost among the performances put up by Dostal and Zegras is the fact that Alex Dostie is third on the Gulls in scoring with three assists. He is tied for second in the league in assists (along with Zegras and ten other players). Not bad for a guy that was brought in almost as an afterthought on a PTO.
Penalty Kill Good, Power Play… ehhh
Because it’s the bizarro upside-down season, of course the Gulls power-play which looked nigh unstoppable in the preseason has struggled out of the gate. Meanwhile, the penalty kill – which I never doubted for a second, is tied for tops in the league at a 100% kill rate with three other teams. The Gulls have been shorthanded eleven times in three games and killed every single penalty, including two separate five on three opportunities in the same game. The man-advantage on the other hand…. well it currently sits at 17th in the league with 7.7% having scored just the one power-play goal on thirteen opportunities.
Still Short a Guy…
Through their first three games, the Gulls have deployed a defenseman in a forward spot. It was Jeremy Roy for the first two games and then Keegan Kanzig for the last one. Max Golod has officially been recalled as per AHL transactions but does not sit on the Gulls roster on their website as of right now. Bryce Kindopp however, is. Will we see him against Colorado? We shall see…
San Diego continues their early February homestand and hosts the Colorado Eagles for Saturday night and Sunday afternoon tilts. The Eagles were due to start the season against the Heat on opening weekend but as it has been reported – the Flames opted to keep their farm team north of the border. So the Gulls are coming up against a team that has yet to see action and has been much-changed by the off-season departures of several veterans. Can they make it a 5-0 start to the season?
John Broadbent is The Sin Bin’s San Diego Gulls correspondent. You can also follow his work at defendthenest.com. Follow and interact with John on Twitter @SinBinGulls or @DefendthenestSD.
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