STOCKTON HEAT (9-10-1-0) at LAVAL ROCKET (16-4-1-1)
5 p.m. MT | 4 p.m. PT | BROADCAST: AHLTV
Points – Adam Ruzicka (17)
Goals – Adam Ruzicka/Luke Philp (8)
Points – Joseph Blandisi (18)
Goals – Joseph Blandisi (9)
PP – 16-for-68, 23.5% (7th)/PK – 54-for-70, 77.1% (24th)
PP – 13-for-64, 20.3% (9th)/PK – 68-for-82, 82.9% (9th)
1. HEAT INDEX
Looking for liftoff.
That’s where the Heat find themselves coming into this evening’s matchup with Laval on the heels of a 3-0 setback Friday in Montreal, a game in which the Heat were stifled offensively and limited to 17 shots and 0-for-3 on the power play against the Rocket.
With the result, the Heat are now 0-4-1-0 against the Canadian Division’s first place team, a club that has recorded at least a point in 11 straight.
“The work ethic is solid,” said Cail MacLean on positives to take from the first of three against the Rocket in Montreal. “Guys came to play. There were a few fights but more importantly there was body contact all over the place, and we did some good things there.”
2. THIS, THAT, THE OTHER
THIS… Scoring has long been part of Stockton hockey’s identity, and they’ve been especially strong following shutouts. Since the start of 2019, the Heat are 3-0-0 in games after being blanked, including offensive outputs of three, six and seven goals. The Heat will look to push that run to four games on Sunday. THAT… A fast start is what the Heat will look for Sunday as the club has conceded the first goal in all five games against the Rocket so far this season. The Heat have been strong when jumping on top this season with a record of 8-3-0 on the year compared to a 1-7-1 mark when allowing the opening score. THE OTHER… It’s been a tale of two segments for the Heat, who played in their 20th of 30 scheduled games on Friday. As A Tale of Two Cities suggests, it was the best of times then the worst of times so far this season for Stockton. The club enjoyed a remarkable run in the first 10 games, going 8-2-0-0 with wins in each of the team’s last eight games of the opening leg of the season. The second 10-game stint has been more tumultuous, with the Heat going 1-8-1-0. Stockton will look to start off the final 10 games on a sweeter note with the 5 p.m. MT, 4 p.m. PT puck drop.
3. PLAYERS TO WATCH
Heat – Byron Froese
Froese netted a pair of goals in the teams’ first series, a four-game set in Calgary, and is tied for the Heat lead with his pair of scores against Laval.
Rocket – Ryan Poehling
Poehling netted the empty-netter to seal Friday’s win and has been a thorn in the Heat’s side throughout the season series with a pair of goals and four assists, including the OT winner in the first meeting.
4. UPCOMING MILESTONES
- Byron Froese is two goals away from 100 in his AHL career
- Rob Hamilton is one assist away from 50 in his AHL career
- Luke Philp is three points away from 50 in his AHL career
- Glenn Gawdin is one goal away from 30 in the AHL
- Artyom Zagidulin is one win away from 20 in his AHL career
“Obviously we’re not where we want to be. At the end of the day, I still don’t think it’s for lack of effort. I think we’ve got a lot of guys that care. I think we’re an inch behind. A step here, a step there, that’ll make the difference in our game. We have to find better ways to create some offense.” – Zac Leslie on Stockton’s recent slump