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Gulls Season Recap
By Thomas Harrington
San Diego’s regular season came to an end last Friday night. They qualified for the final playoff spot in the Pacific Division by finishing seventh and had a record of 28-33-4-3. They will face the Ontario Reign in the first round of the Calder Cup Playoffs.
It was a difficult season for San Diego; there were times they looked great, but they were rarely able to play at that level. Things weren’t helped by a COVID outbreak in the middle of the year, putting their season on pause for a while. With all that in mind, it’s great to see them make the playoffs, and hopefully they have a deep run in them.
In their seventh season as Anaheim’s AHL affiliate, 16 players played for Anaheim and San Diego: Jacob Perreault, Bryce Kindopp, Brayden Tracey, Hunter Drew, Brendan Guhle, Jacob Larsson, Danny O’Regan, Greg Pateryn, Benoit-Olivier Groulx, Mason McTavish, Buddy Robinson, Simon Benoit, Vinni Lettieri, Sam Carrick, Sonny Milano, and Lukas Dostal. There were also some players who were called up but didn’t see any NHL action.
The Gulls had a slow start to the season, losing their first three games before beating Tucson 5-1. They were a better team at home than on the road, as they had a 17-14-3 record at Pechanga Arena, and only a record of 11-19-1-3 when they were the visitor. They’re also limping into the playoffs, with a record of 1-6-1-2 to end the regular season.
Between injuries, call-ups, and COVID, no player appeared in every game. The closest was Bryce Kindopp, who played in 67 games and finished the season with 12 goals and 29 points. Alex Limoges led the team with 23 goals and 40 points, while the surprising Hunter Drew was second in goals with 17 and third in points with 38. After being claimed on waivers, Lucas Elvenes scored nine goals and 33 points.
If not for games missed, Jacob Perreault probably would have led the team offensively, but still finished with 14 goals and 37 points. Brayden Tracey, Anaheim’s other forward 1st round pick on the team, had 11 goals and 31 points. Both Perreault and Tracey had stretches where they were San Diego’s most dangerous forwards. Next season they need to do it more often. Benoit-Olivier Groulx spent a lot of the early season in Anaheim, but still played in 40 AHL games and scored 11 goals and 22 points.
The Gulls had a veteran blueline, but it wasn’t one that played great. Nikolas Brouillard led the team with 13 goals and 39 points, while Trevor Carrick also hit the 30 point mark, the only other defenseman to do so. Axel Andersson only played in 35 games but managed four goals and 10 points in his first full season in North America. Jacob Larsson had a nice season: he played in 55 games and scored two goals and 15 points. Brendan Guhle scored three goals and seven points in 37 games.
San Diego used three goaltenders this past season, with the bulk of the games going to Lukas Dostal. Olle Eriksson Ek was his backup most nights, and Francis Marotte played in eight games. Dostal finished with a record of 18-14-4 and has a 2.60 goals against average, .916 save percentage, and two shutouts. Eriksson Ek had a record of 7-15-2, a 3.44 goals against average, a .880 save percentage, and one shutout.
Anaheim had three college prospects join the Gulls when their NCAA seasons concluded. Drew Helleson played the most, suiting up for 17 games and recording two assists. He looked pretty comfortable on the ice most nights. Josh Lopina played in 13 games and scored his first career AHL goal in the final regular season game, to go along with three assists. Finally, Blake McLaughlin played in seven games and scored one goal.
Because of the coronavirus, the Calder Cup has not been awarded these past two seasons. As of right now, the plan is for the AHL to have the Calder Cup Playoffs with the winner being awarded the Calder Cup. Hopefully everything goes smoothly and they are able to complete the tournament. San Diego is clearly the underdog going into their first round matchup, but upsets can and do happen in sports. Hopefully the Gulls will be able to pull this one off.
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May 2nd, 2022