The San Diego Gulls are undefeated to start the AHL season after winning their first six games. Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Nick Robertson recorded his first career AHL goal in his second game of the season, and Los Angeles Kings prospect Arthur Kaliyev finally recorded his first AHL goal.
Gulls Win Sixth Straight
The San Diego Gulls have now won their first six games of the 2020-21 AHL season after defeating the Bakersfield Condors 4-3 on Wednesday night. They are one of five undefeated teams, including the Chicago Wolves, Henderson Silver Knights, Tucson Roadrunners and the Toronto Marlies. Czech netminder Lukas Dostal improved to 5-0-0 with a 2.00 goals-against average (GAA) and a .950 save percentage (SV%). Along with another impressive start from Dostal, two Gulls recorded their first AHL goals; Benoit-Olivier Groulx deflected a Josh Mahura point shot to get the Gulls’ first goal of the game, and Jacob Perreault scored his first AHL goal 48 seconds later to tie it.
It’s a franchise record start for the Gulls, whose next two games are against the struggling Condors and Colorado Eagles, so an eight-game win streak is within reach. However, the Gulls’ progress could be hampered by the impending return of the Ontario Hockey League and Western Hockey League. When both leagues resume, the Gulls will lose Jamie Drysdale, Brayden Tracey and Perreault to their junior hockey teams. Drysdale has been extremely impressive in his first taste of professional hockey. The 18-year-old defenseman leads all AHL blueliners in scoring with two goals and four assists for six points in six games played.
Robertson Scores First AHL Goal
Maple Leafs prospect Nick Robertson grabbed his first AHL goal in his second game of the season in the Marlies’ 6-2 win over the Manitoba Moose on Tuesday. He burst onto the scene last season when he joined the Maple Leafs in the NHL’s playoff bubble. He played four games and recorded his first NHL goal. The Maple Leafs gave him one game this season, but he left with a knee injury after playing only 2:20 in his season debut. He’s played two games with the Marlies this season, recording one goal and two assists. It’s a matter of time before Toronto calls him back up to the NHL roster.
In 2019-20, Roberston played for the OHL’s Peterborough Petes, amassing 55 goals and 31 assists for 86 points in 46 games played. He led the league in goals and was named the CHL Sportsman of the Year. Per the NHL-CHL agreement, Robertson is required to return to the OHL this season if he’s not on the NHL roster, and he isn’t eligible to play in the AHL on a full-time basis until next season. While it’s great to see him producing in the minors, Toronto will have to make a decision soon on what’s best for his development.
Kaliyev Grabs First AHL Goal
After scoring in his NHL debut, Kaliyev has had a slow start to his life in the AHL. He was pointless through his first four games of the season before recording an assist in Ontario’s 4-3 overtime loss to Tucson on Feb. 14. He finally got his first AHL goal with a power-play marker in a 2-1 victory over Colorado on Wednesday. Drafted 33rd overall by the Kings in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, he spent the 2019-20 season in the OHL with the Hamilton Bulldogs recording an impressive 44 goals and 98 points in 57 games played.
He represented Team USA at the 2021 World Junior Championship, winning a gold medal and finishing tied for second in scoring with three goals and five assists in seven games played. Kaliyev is also among the group of CHL-bound players when the OHL resumes in April. It’s doubtful the Kings will promote him to the NHL full-time, so he will likely be heading back to Hamilton.