STOCKTON HEAT (9-11-1-0) at LAVAL ROCKET (17-4-1-1)
5 p.m. MT | 4 p.m. PT | BROADCAST: AHLTV
Points – Adam Ruzicka (18)
Goals – Adam Ruzicka (9)
Points – Joseph Blandisi/Ryan Poehling/Jordan Weal (18)
Goals – Joseph Blandisi (9)
PP – 16-for-68, 23.5% (7th)/PK – 56-for-73, 76.7% (25th)
PP – 14-for-67, 20.9% (9th)/PK – 68-for-82, 82.9% (10th)
1. HEAT INDEX
The finish line is in sight.
The Heat’s furious start to the season with 22 games in 44 days comes to a close this evening as Stockton and Laval face off for the final time in the regular season, a 5 p.m. MT, 4 p.m. PT puck drop at the Bell Centre.
The Heat are coming off a 4-2 setback against the Rocket, with rookie Mark Simpson and second-year center Adam Ruzicka finding the back of the net for the Heat as they cut a three-goal deficit to one before an empty netter sealed the deal.
“Our offensive confidence has waned,” said Cail MacLean following Sunday’s battle with Laval. “You can see we have guys that want to make plays. Their confidence has gotten to a point where they’re trying a little too hard to make plays. We’re getting too lateral, more direct and attacking… We have to find a way to get one and get going.”
2. THIS, THAT, THE OTHER
THIS… While the Heat have been battling through a recent slump, the goaltending has been strong. Garret Sparks answered 37 shots that came his way with 34 stops, the second-best tally of the campaign. Prior to Sparks on Sunday, Zagidulin turned away 19 of 21 shots faced. Among the pair currently occupying the paint for the Heat, the duo has combined for 85 saves on 92 shots faced, a .924 SVP. THAT… The Heat will look to find a way to puncture the Laval defense in the final scheduled meeting between the clubs, Stockton having been limited to 11 goals through the first six meetings. In the last two, the Heat have been limited to just 35 shots on goal and 0-for-3 on the man-advantage. THE OTHER… Adam Ruzicka has yet to score without it becoming a streak. He started his season scoring with four consecutive three-point outings, then notched a pair of two-game scoring spurts to round out his first 17 points on the campaign. He’ll look to build on his goal on Sunday when the puck drops in Montreal.
3. PLAYERS TO WATCH
Heat – Glenn Gawdin
Gawdin is tied for second this season among Heat skaters for scoring against Laval with three points, all assists. The forward rang one off a post as the Heat were attempting a comeback late and will look to lead Stockton to the club’s first win over Laval on the year.
Rocket – Jordan Weal
Weal had a hat trick of helpers the last time out, including assists on the first two goals and in the empty-netter to clinch the game. The forward has eight points and two goals through six games of the season series.
4. UPCOMING MILESTONES
- Byron Froese is two goals away from 100 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
- Adam Ruzicka is one goal away from 20 in his AHL career
- Artyom Zagidulin is one win away from 20 in his AHL career
“We’re working hard. We won some battles, we were in it. It showed our character. (Right now) it’s not going the way we want, but we’re trying our best.” – Dmitry Zavgorodniy on Stockton’s effort while fighting through the current slump