San Diego Gulls defenseman Jamie Drysdale scored his first professional goal on Saturday night. He broke down the play to the media after the game.
The ongoing complications with the OHL’s return play for the 2021 season have been a blessing in disguise for the San Diego Gulls. Under normal circumstances, Jamie Drysdale likely would still be developing with the Erie Otters in the OHL due to the age restrictions set in place by the American Hockey League. However, with CHL operations – and its affiliated leagues – on hold, Drysdale is one of several Anaheim Ducks draft picks eligible to play for the Gulls this season.
After a convincing 4-1 victory in their season opener on Friday night, the Gulls were back in action on Saturday night, looking to swept their neighbors to the north in the Bakersfield Condors. Much like the first game between these two teams, the Gulls trailed 1-0 but came roaring back. Chase De Leo was instrumental in both comebacks, but it was Drysdale who turned heads on Saturday night with his heads-up play.
Just over a minute after De Leo evened the score in the first period, Gulls forward Alex Dostie recovered a puck along the boards at center ice, carrying it through the neutral zone before finding a wide-open Drysdale, who was sprinting towards the Bakersfield end. All alone, the 18-year-old defenseman received the puck and fired a shot from the slot past Bakersfield netminder Olivier Rodrigue. As noted to the age restrictions, Drysdale became the youngest player to score a goal for the Gulls.
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“You know, I think I just saw a broken play along the boards,” Drysdale told the media on Saturday. “When ended up winning the battle, and I saw Dos [Alex Dostie] skating up and the D committed to him, so I figured there was a gap in the open ice in the middle. So I tried to take advantage of that, and, you know, Dostie made a heckuva pass. I just came down and tried not to overthink it. I saw a spot and shot for it and I was fortunate enough for it to go in.”
Drysdale’s goal was his only shot in the Gulls 4-3 win. He also collected a secondary assist on Sam Carrick’s goal in the second period, marking his first multi-point game of his professional career. Over the last two seasons with the Otters of the OHL, Drysdale has proven himself to be an excellent facilitator of the puck, tallying 71 assists during that time. The Toronto, ON native is a remarkable play-driver, hence why he was taken with the sixth overall pick in last year’s draft.
And again, the unique circumstances in place under the COVID-19 pandemic have allowed Drysdale to play at a higher level. That could end paying huge divendends for the Ducks if Drysdale proves he is ready earlier than expected, where he wouldn’t have had a chance to showcase himself in the AHL for another year. Drysdale indicated that everyone in the Gulls organization has helped him boost his confidence, despite only playing in two games.
“Everyone here is encouraging me to play my game and not be afraid to jump up, not be afraid to make a play,” the 18-year-old said. “That’s huge for my confidence as well. The guys here are great, the coaches are great and the staff is great.”
Jamie Drysdale and the San Diego Gulls face their rival Ontario Reign on Wednesday evening.