Gulls Biweekly Report 1

By Thomas Harrington

Welcome to the first San Diego Gulls biweekly report of the season. In every biweekly report, you can expect to find a recap of all the games the Gulls played, a quick preview of their upcoming games, and who might make their way up to Anaheim based on their play.

I’ll also be highlighting plays from Anaheim’s top prospects, though some of them may return to junior hockey later this season. As the season progresses, I’ll also start giving updates on the playoff picture, but it’s a little too early to go into that right now.

Last season, the Gulls started off 0-0-6; they were determined to have a much better start this season. They’ve pulled that off with their best start in franchise history, going 5-0-0 through the first two weekends of the season. A mix of veterans and prospects have been a big factor in this, as has the team’s goaltending.

Gulls Win Big In Season Opener

The Gulls opened the season at home against Bakersfield. They are playing in Irvine to start the season, but the hope is they will return to San Diego later in the year. The Condors opened the scoring in the game, getting on the board in less than five minutes. Neither team scored again in the opening frame. In the second, the Gulls started to take over. A great individual effort by Chase De Leo saw him steal the puck in the offensive zone, get a shot off, and then seemingly poke the puck over the goal line after it trickled by the goaltender. However, upon review, it was determined that Trevor Zegras was actually the one to poke the puck over the line, giving him his first career professional goal.

Halfway through the second, De Leo actually scored to make it 2-1, and Kodie Curran made it 3-1 before the period was over. Zegras assisted on both goals, giving him three points in his professional debut. In the third period, Matt Lorito scored his first goal as a Gull on a two-on-one rush. Jacob Perreault picked up his first professional point on the goal and San Diego won 4-1. Lucas Dostal was in net and he stopped 29 of 30 shots to pick up his first AHL win.

Gulls Beat Condors Again

San Diego and Bakersfield were back at it again the following night. Once again, Bakersfield scored early in the contest, this time just 1:35 into the game. However, De Leo tied it up a little more than 10 minutes later, and Jamie Drysdale scored his first professional goal to put San Diego on top just over a minute later. About two minutes into the second period Bakersfield tied the game, but a minute later Sam Carrick scored his first of the season to restore the lead. Zegras and Drysdale both assisted on that goal. A few minutes later, Zegras made it 4-2. Early in the third, Bakersfield made it a one-goal game, but that was the only goal of the period and the Gulls won 4-3.

Late Score Lifts Gulls Over Reign

Next up, the Gulls hosted their rival, the Ontario Reign. Neither team scored in the first period, but Ontario scored a shorthanded goal just over a minute into the second period to take the lead. About half way through the third, Josh Mahura exited the penalty box and scored on a breakaway to tie the game. It looked like the game was going to overtime, but Keegan Lowe scored his first of the season with just seconds left in regulation to give San Diego the 2-1 win.

San Diego Wins Two Close Games Against Colorado

The Gulls wrapped things up with two games against Colorado. Colorado took the lead in the first period on a powerplay goal, the first that San Diego had given up this season, but Carrick tied the game in the second, with Drysdale getting an assist on the goal. Less than two minutes into the third, Vinni Lettieri gave the Gulls a 2-1 lead, with Drysdale and Zegras both assisting on the goal. Colorado tied the game, but Lettieri scored his second goal of the game to give San Diego the 3-2 win.

In the second game of the series, Colorado took the lead in the first period, but Andrew Agozzino tied the game with 22 seconds left in the opening frame. Zegras picked up his fifth assist in five games on the goal. In the third, Andrew Poturalski scored a beautiful goal to give the Gulls a 2-1 lead. Late in the third, Colorado pulled their goaltender, and managed to get the tying goal with less than 15 seconds to go in regulation. In overtime, Drysdale was given a ton of time and space to walk in and snap the puck home for the gamewinner just 17 seconds into the extra session.

What’s Next?

The Gulls will play six games over the next two weeks. They’ll start out at home, hosting Bakersfield in what will be the end of their six-game homestand to open the season. San Diego will then hit the road for a rematch in Bakersfield before returning home to play Colorado. The Gulls will then go on the road for three straight games the Henderson Silver Knights, Vegas’ new AHL affiliate.

Final Thoughts

Five games into the season, there are a number of standouts on the Gulls. First, Zegras has been great, with seven points in five games, and earned player of the week honors in the AHL by picking up five points in the first two games of the season. He’s only recorded two assists since then, but has still looked dangerous. While I think it will be better for his development to spend most of this season in San Diego, I do expect him to make his NHL debut at some point. If he keeps playing like this, it will likely be very soon. De Leo and Drysdale are next on the team in scoring with five points each.

As with previous seasons, I expect De Leo to get some games in Anaheim but not a ton, and I don’t think Drysdale will get any. If the OHL does play this year, he’ll head back to juniors. Lettieri and Agozzino have both only played in two games, but both have been very good for San Diego. They’ve already gotten some NHL action this season, and I expect them to get more down the road. Mahura has been a solid presence on San Diego’s blueline, and I expect him to get more NHL games this season as well.

Finally, in net, Dostal has probably been San Diego’s best player, going 4-0 on the young season. He’s only let in one bad goal, but made a number of spectacular saves. There are three goaltenders on the depth chart ahead of him right now. Similar to Zegras, I think Dostal will benefit from a year in the AHL, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he was given an NHL game at some point this season.

The Gulls are off to their best start since becoming Anaheim’s affiliate. However, despite the record, there are some things they need to improve upon. Specifically, they have given up the first goal in every single game this season. Being able to come back in a game to win is a great sign for a team, but they need to start scoring the first goal in some games going forward.

They’ve also played only at home, so it will be interesting to see how they do on the road. The first real test will be the three straight games in Henderson. Despite giving up the first goal in every game and only playing at home so far, it’s been an incredibly exciting start for the Gulls. In this shortened season, they’ve put themselves in a position to finish at or near the top of the Pacific Division, though Henderson and Tucson are also undefeated in the early going of the season.

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February 16th, 2021


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