Breaking down Dustin Wolf’s outstanding AHL debut season

The Calgary Flames struck gold when they were able to draft Dustin Wolf in the seventh round of the 2019 NHL draft. Being the 214th overall selection, Wolf was overlooked by quite literally every NHL team until the Flames finally selected him as the fourth last draft pick of 2019.

Now nearly three years since his name was called, he’s proven that he’s a world-class goaltending prospect and continues to rack up the accolades. His latest? Winning the AHL’s Aldege “Baz” Bastien Memorial Award as the AHL’s most outstanding goalie.

Wolf’s 2021–22 accomplishments

Playing in his first full year as an AHL rookie, Wolf took the reins as the starting goaltender for the Stockton Heat. He had a mediocre AHL debut in 2020–21 where he managed a 2–1–0 record over three appearances. His AHL stat line sat at 3.24 GAA and a 0.895 SV% after giving up eight goals over 148 minutes of play.

Virtually everyone who has followed Wolf’s development knew that his first set of AHL numbers to close out that season was merely a blip and what really mattered would be how he’d perform in a full season with the Heat. Spoiler alert: He did not disappoint.

Wolf’s playing record

Per, in 47 games played, Wolf ended up putting up an incredible 33–9–4 record. He posted a 0.924 SV% and had a 2.35 GAA. That alone was what catapulted the Heat atop the Pacific Division, as they finished their 68-game regular season with a 45–16–5 record.

The save percentage of 0.924 by a regular Heat goaltender hasn’t been reached since David Rittich did it back in 2016–17 where he posted the exact same percentage with a 15–11–4 record. Yes, Wolf more than doubled Rittich’s wins while losing fewer games.

Wolf’s path to success

As a team, the 2021–22 iteration of the Stockton Heat are poised for a lengthy playoff run and could very well challenge for the Calder Cup after not appearing in the playoffs since 2016–17. There have been quite a few impressive individual accomplishments by the Heat’s roster, including Jakob Pelletier setting the rookie scoring record, Matthew Phillips hitting 31 goals on the year, and more.

What has made Wolf a standout in particular is the path he took to earn all of his awards.

Wolf started the season with a 15–0–2 record, not losing in regulation until after the calendar turned over to 2022. This run included a five-game win streak for Wolf right after he lost the season opener 1–0 in overtime, as well as an even more impressive 10-game win streak before Wolf finally lost on January 4 against the Tucson Roadrunners by a final score of 2–1.

While Wolf unfortunately did not record a single shutout in the season, he had 17 games where he allowed just one goal, and another 13 where he allowed two. In all but one game where he allowed one goal, he picked up the win as well.

He also earned a call-up to the NHL towards the end of the regular season with the Flames opting to start Daniel Vladar to give Jacob Markstrom some well-earned rest.

At the end of the AHL season, Wolf was named to the 2021–22 AHL All-Rookie Team with teammate Pelletier also earning the nod. A day later, Wolf was announced as the goaltender for the 2021–22 AHL First All-Star Team. Then finally one week after, he earned the prestigious Aldege “Baz” Bastien Memorial Award for being the AHL’s best goaltender. Somehow despite all of this, Wolf was not selected for the AHL’s Rookie of the Year, in what could be a slight snubbing.

Overall, it was a stellar week for the budding star goaltender, and it’s not a bad way to get ready for the playoffs.

Calder Cup in sight for Stockton

As the Calder Cup playoffs are underway, the Heat have been out of action having earned a first round bye. They will face off against the lowest-seeded first round winner of the Pacific Division, which could be either the Bakersfield Condors (#4 seed) or Henderson Silver Knights (#6). Results so far suggest it’ll end up being the Condors, unless the Silver Knights pull off an upset and come back against the Colorado Eagles. If the Eagles win their series, it’d be a perfect #2, #3, and #4 seed advancement to the second round to lock in the Condors as the Heat’s second round opponent.

To say Wolf had a successful AHL debut season is very much an understatement. He is easily the Heat’s most valuable player and will be integral in their playoff run. Best of luck to the baby Flames as they gear up for their first playoff action in five years.

Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire

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