Gulls Exit Interview: Lukas DostalJun 1, 2021
By AJ Manderichio and Matt Weller/SanDiegoGulls.com
Lukas Dostal certainly made a good first impression.
The rookie netminder made his American Hockey League debut during the 2020-21 season, his first taste of North American professional hockey. The former 2018 third-round selection put together a stellar debut, posting a 15-9-0 record with a 2.87 GAA and .916 SV% in 24 games. He finished the regular season second among AHL goaltenders in saves (813) and third in wins (15).
Additionally, among rookie goaltenders, Dostal ranked second in SV% (.916) and fourth in GAA (2.87). He also set a Gulls rookie record with an eight-game win streak (8-0-0-0), stretching from Mar. 31 to Apr. 30. The goalie also posted a five-game win streak (5-0-0-0) to begin the season.
Like all rookies, Dostal faced adversity, and needed to adjust his game.
Sandwiched between those two impressive streaks was a winless streak of seven games, where Dostal saw his GAA spike to 4.02 and his SV% dip to .876.
“I learned so much,” he said during the team’s season-ending media availability. “The biggest challenge was obviously the smaller ice surface. I just had to adjust my play a little bit from a technical side. Add some new stuff. But yeah, the most challenging this was the smaller surface. I think we did a good job for me to feel the game the way I wanted to feel. I’m happy with how I finished the season. I can’t wait for the next one.”
Dostal elevated his game during San Diego’s Pacific Division Semifinals series against the Bakersfield Condors. He finished his season with an exclamation mark, posting a 2.33 GAA and a division-leading .935 SV% in the three-game series.
His performance earned high praise from the head coach, Kevin Dineen.
“I stand by my comments after the last night (the Game 3 loss to Bakersfield) that his preparation and his demeanor really didn’t change from the beginning of the year till the end,” Dineen said when reviewing Dostal’s season. “I tend to have less conversations with my goalies for no other reason than you have a full-time goalie coach there. To see the level of maturity on him and his sincere enthusiasm to be around the rink and to really improve his craft, it bodes well for his future.”
Dostal shared more of his thoughts following the regular season. Below is a transcript of his media availability, edited lightly for clarity.
On his first season in North America:
It was a great experience. My first pro season in North America so obviously it was a little bit challenging in the beginning, getting used to the smaller ice. Jeff Glass and Sudsy (Ducks Goaltending Coach Sudarshan Maharaj) did a great job, they helped me a lot. I really appreciated it and how it went. With the season overall, I felt great. I’m happy it didn’t take as much time to adjust to the smaller ice.
On Jeff Glass:
He’s a great guy. He helped me a lot. The season, with COVID, it was more challenging than a normal season. With it being my first pro year, I think we did a great job. I’m happy with how it went.
On his playoff performance:
From the team perspective, it didn’t end how we wanted. At this time, we wanted to be in Vegas and playing for the division title. But from my point of view, it was good hockey. I had fun and I really developed a calm feeling. Everything we worked on during the season, it just clicked in the right moment. I’m just going to keep working on those things. I really believe I’m going to be ready for next season.
On adjusting to North America during a pandemic:
Luckily the season went really fast. We had so much hockey to play. We were practicing really hard. There really wasn’t even much time to spend off the ice. Just tried to go home, recover and be ready for the next day. That was my main focus. Do my best for this season. There wasn’t much stuff for me to do. Just keep safe and follow the protocols. I didn’t want to put the organization into risk. As a whole organization, we did a really good job with the guys. Everyone included did such a good job to keep it safe. That’s why we were able to play the whole season without any COVID concerns.
On his big saves against Bakersfield:
It was so much fun to play. Sometimes you need to be lucky but most of the time I just read the play. The save might look bigger, but it still counts as one save at the time. I just felt great. I felt great the whole playoff. I was happy that I felt that good during the season. When I came here, I was questioning myself. How was it going to go? How was I going to feel? It was my first pro North American hockey season for me. I felt great and I’m happy with how I finished, but from a team perspective, it’s unfortunate that we’re not in Vegas right now.
On what he learned off the ice:
We have such a nice coaching staff over here. I learned new stuff in the gym, exercises I’ll continue to use in the summer. The guys really helped me to adjust. Everyone in the organization helped me a lot. That’s why I’m really thankful. It made my first year so much easier.