Gulls Grads: Lukas DostalApr 27, 2023
By AJ Manderichio/SanDiegoGulls.com
Lukas Dostal’s meteoric rise through the organization continued in 2022-23.
The Brno, Czechia native entered his third full season with the Gulls as the unquestioned starter. Two years ago – his first full season in North America – Dostal finished in the top 10 among American Hockey League rookie goalies in wins (18), goals-against average (.260), save percentage (.916), shutouts (2) and appearances (40). He also wrote his name in the team’s record book, scoring the first goaltender goal in organization history (NHL or AHL) to become the 16th goaltender in AHL history to score a goal (17th including playoffs), Mar. 2 @ Colorado.
If that wasn’t enough, he also stopped a career high 51-of-53 shots in that game, becoming the second goaltender in Gulls history to record 50-or-more saves in a game.
While the goaltender didn’t see the same personal success this year, Dostal continued to impress. He opened the season with a highlight-reel save on Nov. 11 against the Bakersfield Condors, a stop that remains one of the top plays from the AHL’s regular season. He looked dominant over large stretches of the first half, highlighted by the fact he became the first goaltender in San Diego’s AHL history to record consecutive shutouts with his 5-0 win on Jan. 6 at Milwaukee and his 3-0 win against Henderson on Jan. 1.
In addition, Anaheim’s third-round selection (85th overall) in the 2018 NHL Draft set the franchise’s longest shutout sequence, keeping teams off the board for 152:31 from Dec. 9, 2022 – Jan. 7, 2023, a four-game span. He remains San Diego’s all-time leader with five career AHL shutouts, and it marked the second consecutive season Dostal recorded multiple shutouts.
The strong first half earned San Diego’s goaltender a 2023 AHL All-Star Classic appearance, the first of his career. He brought his strong play to the league’s midseason showcase, earning AHL All-Star Challenge co-Most Valuable Player honors with Calgary netminder Dustin Wolf. The duo combined for 42 saves throughout the round robin and championship games, leading the Pacific Division to its first Challenge title since the league adopted a 3-on-3 format.
On top of the strong performance in net, Dostal contributed two assists, tying Christopher Gibson (2018, Atlantic) for the most helpers in an All-Star Challenge/Game (since 1995).
Dostal came out of the break strong, helping San Diego earn a 2-1 overtime win against the Coachella Valley Firebirds on Feb. 10. He turned aside 35 shots – including several high-danger scoring chances – as the Gulls earned their first franchise win against the Firebirds. The win – and the start – marked his final action in a Gulls sweater, as the Ducks recalled the Czechia native the next day.
In his most extensive NHL action to date, Dostal made 35 or more saves in 11 of his 17 starts with Anaheim this season. Highlights from his time in Anaheim include becoming the first Ducks goaltender with multiple 40-save appearances on Dec. 23 vs. CGY (also Dec. 17 @ EDM, 46). The performance in Edmonton marked a career-high 46 saves, the second-most saves made by a rookie goaltender in franchise history. He finished the season with new career-highs in several categories, including games played (19) and starts (17).
"Yeah, I think for Dos (Lukas Dostal)…it's funny reflecting at the end of theses seasons; you start to kind of look back," Gulls goaltending coach Jeff Glass said. "He's one of the first guys I've had the chance to work with and to see the steps he’s taken, I don't think anybody is surprised by it, but he's actually getting to enjoy that now and get to that level where he belongs and show that he belongs. And I think his journey is just kind of starting now. I think he's got to that level. We all knew how good he was down here. But, he's now been given the opportunity to show that at the next level and I look forward to continue to watch him play for the next couple of years."
Moving forward, it appears Dostal will get the chance to stick with Anaheim full-time next season. The workhorse at the AHL level enters an offseason aiming to keep his spot behind John Gibson. Goaltender Anthony Stolarz is an unrestricted free agent, which opens the potential for Dostal to transition full-time to the big club.