STOCKTON HEAT (10-15-1-0) at MANITOBA MOOSE (12-11-2-0)
12 p.m. MT | 11 a.m. PT | BROADCAST: AHLTV
Points – Matthew Phillips (20)
Goals – Adam Ruzicka (10)
Points – Nathan Todd (23)
Goals – Jeff Malott (12)
PP – 18-for-92, 19.6% (12th)/PK – 73-for-94, 77.7% (23rd)
PP – 20-for-91, 22.0% (8th)/PK – 58-for-73, 79.5% (18th)
1. HEAT INDEX
After a tough start to the series against Manitoba, a game in which the Moose built a comfortable, 4-0 lead with early goals in the first, second and third periods, the Heat know what it takes.
It’s on each individual to look at themselves and decide what more they can give.
Glenn Gawdin and Matthew Phillips scored for Stockton on Thursdsay, but the 5-2 final score extended the club’s losing streak to four games, matching the longest of the season. It’s the same club that rattled off eight consecutive wins earlier in the year, the same bunch who took three of four from Manitoba in the first set at the Bell MTS Iceplex.
Now it comes down to putting in that extra one percent to push the team over the edge.
“It’s team (effort), but usually the team thing comes down to individual sacrifice and individual commitment, in terms of just finding ways to make plays that are hard and finding ways to (contribute), whether it’s blocking shots or taking hits or winning battles in hard places,” said Heat coach Cail MacLean when asked about how to stop the skid. “There’s working hard and then there’s really competing. We haven’t been at that edge in really competing enough lately, and we’re finding ourselves on the losing end as a result. So you find yourself in a choice of considering yourself defeated or else you regroup and get the effort that we need, and that’s our challenge going into Saturday.”
2. THIS, THAT, THE OTHER
THIS… After the Heat built a 3-0 series lead on the back of scoring first each game, and then Stockton also jumping on top early in the finale of the first series against the Moose, Manitoba bit back in a major way with a goal 45 seconds into the action Thursday, following by a pair of scores in the first 1:25 of the second and a fourth marker 2:02 into the third to take the air out of Stockton’s sails in the first game of the season-ending, five-game set. Head coach Cail MacLean stressed the importance of finding better starts, and we should know quickly today if the message sunk in. THAT… Connor Mackey notched his first point of the season against Manitoba with an assist on Thursday, an anomaly that he did not find the score sheet in a high-scoring first four games of the season series. Mackey, who has four points in the last five games, is tied for third on Stockton’s roster with 16 points, tied with Luke Philp, and is pacing the blueliners with a four-point gap between himself and second-place Alex Petrovic. THE OTHER… If Stockton is to break the slump for the final four games of the season, it’ll start on special teams. The Heat have scored just two goals on the man-advantage in their last 34 opportunities, a span that dates back to March 26. In that same span, opponents have scored 10 times on 38 chances. The Heat are 6-0-0 on the year when outscoring opponents on special teams but 4-15-1 when being outscored.
3. PLAYERS TO WATCH
Heat – Matthew Phillips
Talk about a Moose hunter. In five games against Manitoba this season, Phillips has five goals and six points.
Moose – Nathan Todd
Manitoba’s leading scorer had three points in the first game of the five-game set and has six points in five games against the Heat this season.
4. UPCOMING MILESTONES
- Byron Froese is one goal away from 100 in his AHL career
- Glenn Gawdin is two points away from 100 in his AHL career
- Luke Philp is three points away from 50 in his AHL career
- Matthew Phillips is eight points away from 100 in his AHL career
- Alex Gallant is two games away from 200 in his AHL career
“It does seem like we’re feeling that losing sensation all too often, and sometimes when they pile up then suddenly things like early goals tend to bubble those feelings and emotions right up to the surface. Then stops you from getting that winning feeling and you start to get that mode of ‘oh boy, here we go again.’ As we’ve talked about, the emotional reserves and the stamina at this point in the season and this point in what’s happening in the world are low. It’s a point that we talk about. It’s a point that goes along with what I just talked about, that we have to accept where we are, we have to dig deep and we have to get out of this pattern of losing.” – Cail MacLean on the recent cold stretch