Arena: AT&T Center
Date: December 10, 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 (17GP, 6-8-14)
SAN ANTONIO: F Mikko Rantanen (16GP, 8-13-21)
The Stockton Heat travel to the Lone Star State for the final time in their inaugural AHL regular season for a two-game swing, beginning tonight against the San Antonio Rampage.
The Rampage will certainly be hungry for a win in front of their fans at the AT&T Center, seeing as they have gone pointless in their last five games at home (0-4-1-0). Conversely, the Heat have gone 2-2-0-1 in their last five road games.
LAST TIME VS. SAN ANTONIO
In what was perhaps the most back-and-forth game of the season for the Heat, Stockton fell just short to the Rampage 5-4 in a shootout in the team’s last trip to San Antonio back on November 13th.
Markus Granlund paced the offensive output with a two-goal performance, while Kenny Agostino, Freddie Hamilton and Dustin Stevenson all contributed two assists apiece.
Garnet Hathaway scored the biggest goal of the night, netting a shorthanded marker with less than five minutes to play in regulation and sent the game to overtime.
That night in November also represented was has been a noticeable shift in Stockton’s offensive production. Prior to that four-goal game, the Heat had not scored three or more goals since opening night (eight games).
Since then, the Heat have only once been held to less than three goals (eight games).
WHO TO WATCH
Last time around we told you to watch Derek Grant and he ended up scoring the game-winning goal in the third period, so let’s see if we can’t go two-straight and tell you to watch Kenny Agostino tonight.
Agostino has been on fire as of late, scoring three goals and four points in his last two games. In just two games in December, he has matched his monthly totals from each October and November, showing that he is falling into a groove offensively.
He and his linemates Freddie Hamilton and Garnet Hathaway have been inarguably the most consistent threat in the attacking zone over the last few games and they will undoubtedly be looking to continue that trend here in San Antonio.
Be sure to tune in early and catch the first period, though, as three of Agostino’s four goals this season have come in the first period.
Agostino has definitely gotten out of the locker room fresh for first periods this season and that trait is especially important on the road, so his tendency for early tallies will be a welcomed attribute should it so happen to rear it’s head tonight in San Antonio.
‘HEAT’ IN TEXAS
Tonight will mark the fifth and penultimate time that the Heat have taken to the ice in the Lone Star State and it has been a relatively successful state for Stockton this year.
So far through four games, the Heat are 2-1-0-1 in Texas, but have been outscored 11-13.
The power play hasn’t been at its best for the Heat in Texas, going 3-for-18 for a 16.7-percent success rate. However, the penalty kill has absolutely been dominant in Texas, killing off 23 of 24 shorthanded opportunities.
Special teams doesn’t mean everything, as evidenced by the Heat earning five of a possible eight points thus far in Texas, but improving the power play while maintaining their success rate on the penalty kill will surely be a focus on this trip beginning tonight.
SHOTS AT A PREMIUM
It’s no secret that the Heat have been peppering opposing goalies this season. The team leads the league in shots per game with nearly 36 and have outshot opponents in almost 71% of their games this season.
However in the first match-up in San Antonio between the teams back in October, the Heat suffered one of the three games they have been outshot this season in San Antonio’s 5-1 win over the Heat.
Most recently, Stockton outshot San Antonio by three shots, courtesy of a good three-on-three session in overtime where the Heat doubled up San Antonio’s three shots in the extra period.
The Stockton Heat have played six different goaltenders this season already, despite being just 17 games into the season.
Jon Gillies, Kevin Poulin, Joni Ortio, Kent Simpson, Eric Hartzell and Karri Ramo have all appeared in at least one game this year, giving Stockton the most different netminders to tend the crease thus far.
Interestingly enough the San Antonio Rampage have seen the most Heat goalies this season as they’ve experienced Gillies and Ramo in the first game and saw Poulin in the second game. Tonight they should see either Ortio or Simpson to make it four goalies that have played at the AT&T Center this season.
The next team on the list of “most goalies played this season” is the Toronto Marlies, who have had five different goaltenders between the pipes this season.
Nevertheless, the Heat are not in that bad of shape as far as the standings are concerned, sitting five games back of the pack points-wise and playing four less games on the year than the average for the rest of the Pacific Division.
Hopefully Ortio and Simpson can continue to provide consistency in net, as the Heat look to make a mid-season push to get back in the hunt.