Arena: Cedar Park Center
Date: December 12, 2015
Time: 5:00 p.m. PST
Broadcast: AHL Live, Spreaker & iHeartRadio beginning at 4:45 p.m. PST
Leading Scorer: STOCKTON: F Freddie Hamilton (18GP, 6-8-14)
TEXAS: F Devin Shore (23GP, 15-11-26)
The Stockton Heat will look to polish off their record in the state of Texas in their final contest on the road against the Texas Stars this season.
The Heat enter tonight’s games carrying an overall record of 8-8-0-2 and a 3-1-0-1 record against the two Texas teams.
LAST TIME VS. TEXAS
Back on November 14th, the Heat earned a 5-3 victory over the Stars to improve their record to 2-0-0-0 against them.
On that particular night, Blair Riley scored his first goal of the year (the game-winner) and Turner Elson buried a pair of shorthanded goals to lead the Heat on the scoreboard.
However, both players and Head Coach Ryan Huska heralded the captain Aaron Johnson’s play as the driving force behind the Heat’s victory. Johnson did have a pair of helpers, each coming on Elson’s goals, but really led the team with his 200-foot game in what was arguably his best all-around game of the year as an individual.
WHO TO WATCH
That’s right, it has to be Emile Poirier tonight.
The former first-round pick of the Calgary Flames had an admittedly slow start to his season prior to going down with an upper body injury in late November.
Following a three-game absence from the Heat lineup, Poirier returned in style two nights ago in San Antonio with a two-goal effort, including the game-tying and game-winning goals to help lead the Heat to their first win of the year over the Rampage.
Poirier’s speed is a game changer when he uses it the way he did in San Antonio, as evidenced by the way he scored his second goal when he wheeled to the outside along the farside wall, made a power move towards the net around a defender and tucked the puck in around the goaltender.
If his last game is any indication of things to come, Poirier could fill up some more scoresheets in the near future.
Poirier also has his 21st birthday coming up in a couple days and what better way to celebrate early than a Heat win and another solid game from #21 himself?
Should alternate captain Blair Riley suit up in the game tonight for the Stockton Heat, the veteran winger will be playing in his 300th AHL contest, fittingly against the team he’s scored his biggest goal against for the Stockton Heat.
His pro career started in 2009-10 with the Springfield Falcons after his Ferris State University season was over.
He’d play in the ECHL and AHL for the next two seasons and ever since 2012-13, the winger has been in the AHL. Riley is in his first season with the Stockton Heat after playing the last two seasons with the St. Johns IceCaps. He’s also spent considerable time with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers and has also played for the Peoria Rivermen, San Antonio Rampage and the Springfield Falcons.
ELSON STEADILY RISING
Forward Turner Elson has been a key player for the Heat all season and it’s no secret that he is one of the most vocal guys in the dressing room. Scoring points is a second or third priority for him, but recently he has paved a steady path upwards in the team’s scoring ranks.
The alternate captain and his 11 points (3-8-11) now sit just three points behind the team-leader Freddie Hamilton’s 14 points.
While he undoubtedly is known more for being defensively responsible and making things happen for the Heat on the penalty kill, his recent surge of offense (nine points in his last nine games) unveils yet another layer of the 23-year-old’s talent across all 200-feet of the ice.
QUIETLY GOING BACK-TO-BACK
While it’s been a bit overshadowed, perhaps unfairly, by a pair of impressive two-goal performances from Derek Grant and Emile Poirier, goaltender Joni Ortio has strung together back-to-back wins for the first time since his assignment from Calgary ahead of the November 27th game against Bakersfield.
The crease for the Heat has been a bit of a revolving door this season, but Ortio has stepped in nicely and provided some much-needed consistency between the pipes.
Ortio has only allowed four goals on 50 shots across the last two games in which he’s appeared and has looked extremely comfortable of late.
The Finnish-born netminder has been one of the best players at his position in the AHL over the last two seasons and while he is certainly striving for that call-up to Calgary, he’s making the most of his time here in Stockton thus far.
SCORING CHANGE GIVES HEAT NEW ASSIST LEADER
A change in scoring during Thursday’s win in San Antonio broke up a four-way tie at the top of the Heat leaderboard in assists.
Prior to the change, Kenny Agostino, Turner Elson, Freddie Hamilton and Drew Shore were knotted with 8 assists a piece but after the correction, forward Drew Shore picked up his ninth helper of the season to take over the team lead in assists and also tie him third overall in points with 11 (tied with Elson).
Initially Emile Poirier’s first goal was listed as Poirier from Elson and Derek Grant but it has been reviewed and officially changed to Poirier from Elson and Shore.
Emile Poirier’s two-goal night against San Antonio this past Thursday was his first multi-goal game of this season and his first multi-point game since opening night at Stockton Arena against the Rockford IceHogs.
His last multi-goal game came back on January 9th against the Oklahoma City Barons during the 2014-15 season while he was with the Adirondack Flames.