Dostal's Calm Demeanor Helps Rookie Start FastFeb 12, 2021
By AJ Manderichio/SanDiegoGulls.com
In a frequently chaotic sport, Lukas Dostal stands out for his calm demeanor.
The rookie netminder learned this lesson from his father, who reminded Dostal the goalie is someone who can speak loudly with actions.
“He was telling me all the time, 'Just be calm,'” Dostal explained after today’s practice. “I also think its also going to help because if they have a goalie that's screaming to them, yelling to them, I don't think that's right. The goalie should be taking care of those mistakes that happening. Those guys aren't making mistakes on purpose, so why should the goalie be mad at them? That's my job. I have no reason to be angry at the guys.”
With a roster full of rookie skaters, Dostal stands out among his peers. The first-year netminder currently sits among league leaders in wins (3), goals-against average (1.67) and save percentage (.957). He’s also became the youngest netminder in Gulls history to win each of his first three starts with the club (20 years, 7 months, 20 days), passing John Gibson in 2015-16 (22 years, 3 months, 11 days).
The early success only further motivates the former 2018 third-round selection. Veteran netminder Jeff Glass serves as the team’s backup and mentor, offering his advice and experience to Dostal.
“That's the one thing I love most about Lukas so far - he's never satisfied, and that makes me smile,” Glass said. “Getting to work with him, every day we have something else to work on. You think for a guy that's 3-0, almost leading the league in every category, he'd be happy with that start, but he's still looking for ways to improve his game.”
Dostal’s route to North America differs from the other rookies on San Diego’s roster. Until this season, he stayed overseas, playing professionally in SM-liiga with Ilves. During the 2019-20 season – his first full professional season overseas – Dostal went 27-8-6 with three shutouts, a 1.78 GAA and .927 SV% in appearances.
He led the league with those 27 wins, and finished second in GAA, third in SV% and minutes (2,592), and fourth in games played. The performance earned him SM-liiga Best Goaltender (Urpo Ylönen Award) honors, and Dostal was selected to the SM-liiga All-Star Team.
The experience helped him settle in, first in Anaheim Ducks training camp and then with the Gulls.
“It's a huge advantage because, for example, when I moved to Finland, that league is very fast,” Dostal explained. “The guys are skating so much, and you're playing against (Edmonton Oilers forward) Jesse Puljujarvi and (NHL veteran) Jussi Jokinen, these guys that are NHL players. It's a huge experience to play against them.
“Also in Europe, you have guys playing in the KHL, the Russian League, the guys that have this skill. I think it's a big advantage, and it probably helped me with the adjustment.”
Glass sees those experiences paying off in Dostal’s technique.
“The European game is the big ice, a lot of passing,” he explained. “I can see that in his game, technically moving around the ice. It doesn't faze him if the puck changes direction. Things that happen frequently in Europe that don't happen much in the American Hockey League, he's prepared for now. Even if it was just a short stint in Europe, it did wonders for his game.”
There’s still areas Dostal admits he needs improvement – setting himself quicker for shots from along the goal line or the corners of the rink – and he says the game is faster than in Europe.
Even with those tweaks, Glass remains impressed with the rookie’s impressive debut.
“It's unbelievably impressive how smooth he can make the game feel,” the veteran said. “His mindset going into practice, going into games is a very unique approach. It's something I think a lot of guys can learn from. It usually takes years to acquire the skills he already has, so it's pretty cool to see from a 20-year-old.”
Dostal reflected on the opening three games, happy the team started strong. However, he’s not satisfied with his performance.
“It's most important for the team that we won those three games,” he said. “Put it in a team perspective, I think it's a really important start for us. For my perspective, those games were fun but still, there's lots to improve. If it's not a zero game, then it's still not good. There's lots to improve.”