Arena: Stockton Arena
Date: Saturday, April 14, 2018
Time: 6:00 p.m. PST
Broadcast: AHL Live, Spreaker and iHeartRadio at 5:45 p.m.
LEADING SCORER: STOCKTON: LW Morgan Klimchuk (62GP 19-21-40)
SAN JOSE: LW Rudolfs Balcers (66GP 23-25-48)
Stockton aims to punch their ticket to the Calder Cup Playoffs at Stockton Arena in the regular season finale against San Jose. In addition to a Stockton win over their rival, the Heat need Tucson to defeat San Diego in regulation down in Arizona. With those two results, Stockton would be playoff bound for the second consecutive season. Stockton is riding a two game winning streak, needing to make it three in a row for the first time since February 22.
Catch all the action at Stockton Arena tonight by purchasing your tickets online or by calling 209-373-1500. If you can’t make it to the game, watch on AHL Live by purchasing the single-game feed for just $7.99.
LAST TIME VS. SAN JOSE
Stockton suffered a tough 7-3 loss last Saturday at the SAP Center to conclude a weekend sweep against the Barracuda. Stockton lead multiple times in the game at the Shark Tank, and then tied things up at three early in the final period, but San Jose scored a few big late third period goals to skate past Stockton. Since then, both teams have won a pair of games in the last week, ahead of the biggest regular season battle ever between the two clubs.
WHO TO WATCH
Weeks ago, Heat Head Coach Ryan Huska said this time of the season is where you see guys raise their levels, or fade away. It wasn’t looking good for Emile Poirier weeks ago, as he was healthy scratched for two games on March 24 and 28, watching his team win on the 24th but falling big to Cleveland on the 28th. The message to the longtime member of the Flames organization? We need you to bring everything you got.
Poirier has really elevated his game, noticeable every game, not only on the scoresheet, but also with his speed, his tenacity, his physicality, and his play with an edge.
Since spending time in the press box, Poirier has 10 points in seven games, including a three-point effort in last night’s critical win over Ontario. He’s a matchup problem for every defender in the league when he’s at his best, and when you get Poirier’s best you get a dangerous, speedy, responsible line.
During Poirier’s surge he has been paired with Ryan Lomberg and Mike McMurtry. The trio possesses a rare combination of speed, grit and smarts. In the sweep of Ontario this week the line accounted for six goals in just two games.
Poirier’s speed will be crucial, especially on the forecheck, against a San Jose team that likes to play through their blueliners.
The line of Poirier, McMurtry and Lomberg has undoubtably been impressive over the last few days, but it is hard to ignore Stockton is 2-0 and outscoring opponents 11-5 since the return of Jon Gillies, Spencer Foo, Rasmus Andersson and Cody Goloubef. Gillies made some critical saves, particularly in the third period to record his second consecutive win.
Spencer Foo’s presence back on the top line and power play enhances Stockton’s look offensively and he has points in both games since returning to the lineup on Wednesday. Cody Goloubef picked up two big assists last night since returning from having his first child with his wife. Lastly, Rasmus Andersson brings unparalleled stability on the back end and he registered an impressive marker last night late in the second period.
HOW DOES STOCKTON GET IN?
Two things need to happen for the Stockton Heat to grab hold of the final playoff spot in the Pacific Division. First off, the San Diego Gulls must lose tonight in Tucson (7:00 PST)
Stockton must also defeat San Jose tonight at 6:00 PM. Should Stockton win and San Diego lose in regulation, the Heat would have 33 Regulation/OT Wins (ROW) to San Diego’s 32 ROW.
San Jose can also clinch the playoffs with a win over Stockton and a San Diego regulation loss to Tucson.
THE LOWDOWN VS. SAN JOSE
As you know, Stockton has struggled against their closest rival historically, having gone 13-18-4-0 against San Jose all-time. However, they’ve had their most successful season against San Jose, having gone 5-5-1-0 against the Barracuda this season.
That being said, Stockton has posted the better record against San Jose at the SAP Center, with three of their wins coming on the road in the season series. Rasmus Andersson leads the active roster in scoring against San Jose with 10 points while both Rudolfs Balcers and Adam Helewka have posted 11 and 10 points respectively against the Heat. Stockton has won three of the last five meetings but lost the last two games against San Jose last weekend.
FOOZIE EARNS HIS FIRST CALL, SCORES HIS FIRST GOAL
Since the calendar turned to 2018, Spencer Foo has been putting up the offense, having scored 14 goals and 26 of his 39 points in 2018 (66.7% of his entire offensive production).
With his goal on March 24 against Manitoba, Foo became the third rookie in Heat history, and just the seventh rookie player for the Flames AHL affiliate since 2005-06 to record a 20-goal season (Dustin Boyd-27, Mark Jankowski-27, Markus Granlund-25, David Moss-21, David Wolf-20, Andrew Mangiapane-20).
Foo earned his first NHL call-up to Calgary during and made his NHL Debut on March 31 against his hometown team, the Edmonton Oilers at the Saddledome, following teammates Andrew Mangiapane, Ryan Lomberg and Morgan Klimchuk as Heat players to make their NHL debuts for the Flames as AHL call-ups this season.
He then tallied his first two NHL goals in his last two NHL games to end the season.
On the morning of Wednesday, April 11 Stockton and San Jose trailed San Diego by six points. The winner of tonight’s Stockton-San Jose game will have a chance to jump San Diego to earn the last spot in the Pacific Division.