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Gulls 22-23 Season Review
By Thomas Harrington
The San Diego Gulls put together their worst season as Anaheim’s AHL affiliate, finishing with a record 20-49-2-1 and 43 points, last in the AHL. They had a points percentage of .299. Their previous worst season was the 2021-2022 season when their points percentage was .463. These past two years have been the only two seasons that San Diego has finished with a record below .500. The Gulls got off to a slow start, winning just once in their first four games, and never really recovered from there.
In their eighth season as Anaheim’s AHL affiliate, 12 players played for both the Anaheim Ducks and San Diego Gulls: Benoit-Olivier Groulx, Glenn Gawdin, Pavol Regenda, Justin Kirkland, Drew Helleson, Austin Strand, Nathan Beaulieu, Colton White, Olle Eriksson Ek, Lukas Dostal, Urho Vaakanainen, and Sam Carrick.
A lot was expected of San Diego’s forward group, but far too many of them put up significantly worse numbers than they did the year before, especially among some of Anaheim’s better prospects. Despite being traded at the deadline, Rocco Grimaldi led the team in goals with 27 and points with 56. Gawdin had a nice first season, scoring 17 goals and 33 points in 57 games. Jacob Perreault fell from 37 points in 55 games last year to 19 points in 48 games. Bryce Kindopp recorded 29 points in 67 games a year ago but fell to just nine points in 65 games. Brayden Tracey didn’t see as big a drop off, as he scored 28 points in 62 games this year after scoring 31 points in 55 games last year. After recording a goal in seven games last year, Blake McLaughlin failed to record a point in 24 games and was sent to the ECHL to find his game again. Josh Lopina had four points in 13 games last year but only had four points in 59 games this year.
Groulx was the exception as he did set new career highs in goals, assists, and points, and was second on the team with 18 goals and 39 points. After starting the year in Anaheim, Regenda played in 50 games for the Gulls and scored 13 goals and 25 points. Connor Hvidston made his AHL debut after his WHL season ended and scored a goal in seven games. After being acquired from the Pittsburgh Penguins, Judd Caulfield was signed by Anaheim and made his AHL debut with the Gulls. He was scoreless in five games. Another thing that really hurt the Gulls was Chase De Leo being injured early in the season and missing most of it. He still scored 23 points in 22 games.
Nikolas Brouillard was the lone player to appear in all 72 games for the Gulls and led the defense with 39 points. Michael Del Zotto wasn’t far behind with 31 points in 40 games after being acquired midway through the season. Helleson had a solid rookie season, recording 18 points in 65 games, and he was rewarded with a trip to the NHL at the end of the season. Axel Andersson had another injury-plagued season and only played in 32 games. He recorded five points.
In net, Lukas Dostal was arguably San Diego’s best player this season. He played in 34 games and had a record of 11-21 with a .912 save percentage, a 2.97 goals against average, and three shutouts. He was rewarded for his strong play with a trip to the AHL All-Star Game and was John Gibson’s backup to finish the season while Anthony Stolarz was injured. Olle Eriksson Ek was Dostal’s backup for most of the season, but only picked up two wins in 20 games and had a .852 save percentage and a 4.81 goals against average. Gage Alexander and Calle Clang both joined the team late in the season, and Eriksson Ek saw less time when both were with the team. Alexander played in 16 games and won five of them with a .887 save percentage, a 3.59 goals against average, and one shutout. Clang only played in five games and won once. He had a .904 save percentage and a 2.65 goals against average.
One bright spot for the Gulls was a number of the players brought over in mid-season trades played very well for them. Del Zotto, Dylan Sikura, Chase Priskie, Josiah Slavin, and Andrej Sustr all played fine for the Gulls. It was too little too late to save San Diego’s season, but it was nice to see many of the new players fitting in with the team.
Like the Anaheim Ducks, the San Diego Gulls really struggled this past season. Hopefully next year will be better. A number of Anaheim’s prospects will be leaving the college and junior ranks and will be AHL-bound. It remains to be seen what kind of impact they’ll have in the NHL and AHL, but it’s hard to imagine the results being worse than this past season.
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April 23rd, 2023