STOCKTON HEAT (8-3-1-0) vs. LAVAL ROCKET (9-4-1-0)
2 p.m. MST | 1 p.m. PST | BROADCAST: AHLTV
Points –Matthew Phillips (15)
Goals – Adam Ruzicka (7)
Points – Ryan Poehling/Jordan Weal (10)
Goals – Ryan Poehling (5)
PP – 13-for-42, 31.0% (2nd)/PK – 34-for-42, 81.0% (17th)
PP – 8-for-37, 21.6% (10th)/PK – 38-for-46, 82.6% (14th)
1. HEAT INDEX
Stockton has had better starts on the year, but the fight was important.
Trailing 3-0 through a period in a clash of the Canadian Division’s top two teams, the Heat battled back with second period strikes from Alexander Yelesin and Luke Philp, then a goal from Matthew Phillips with less than 19 seconds remaining on the clock to force overtime. While ultimately the game did not go Stockton’s way, salvaging a point in the series opener could prove to be a turning point as the four-game set rolls on.
“We didn’t put our best foot forward, aside from some moments we were really in their face,” said Heat coach Cail MacLean. “We’re going to turn the page, but we talked about it in the room. We have to learn that lesson. (Laval) was ready to play.”
The Heat will look to get out of the gates quickly and even the series on Saturday.
2. THIS, THAT, THE OTHER
THIS… Laval’s first goal snapped a string of eight consecutive games in which Stockton jumped out to a 1-0 lead. Both clubs fancy themselves as fast starters and each have used parlayed that early edge routinely into the win column. Stockton is 7-1-0 on the year when scoring first and Laval is now 8-3-0. THAT… Koletrane Wilson made his professional debut on Thursday, seeing game action for the first time in a Stockton Heat sweater. The blue-liner earned WHL Lethbridge Hurricanes team honors last season as the club’s Defenseman of the Year, and he featured on Stockton’s penalty kill in his first taste of the AHL last time out. THE OTHER… Sometimes a spark is all you need, and Alexander Yelesin provided that with secondary scoring in Stockton’s first goal on Thursday. The defensive-minded defenseman had not lit the lamp since his AHL debut back on October 4, 2019 against the Colorado Eagles, and his marker on Thursday snapped a skid of 47 games without a goal. The Russian rearguard will be playing in his 50th AHL game on Saturday.
3. PLAYERS TO WATCH
Heat – Glenn Gawdin
Coming off his second multi-point game of the season and climbing to sixth in scoring among active Heat players, Gawdin will look to keep up his play on the offensive end.
Rocket – Ryan Poehling
Poehling put a damper on Stockton’s return to its home away from home at the Scotiabank Saddledome, scoring the game-winner in OT and adding a pair of assists on Thursday.
4. MILESTONES WITHIN REACH
- Rob Hamilton is one assist away from 50 in his AHL career
- Zac Leslie is two points away from 100 in his AHL career
- Glenn Gawdin is two goals away from 30 in the AHL
- Alexander Yelesin will play in his 50th AHL game
“He doesn’t have a clock on it in terms of ‘what’s the time and the score and what’s the relative chances of me fixing this problem?’ He’s the same all the time. That’s why he’s excelled and proven people wrong and bubbled to the top so often. He has that character that’s like ‘give me a chance, and every time I go out on the ice I’m going to try to accomplish something.’ I feel like it’s the law of averages. You give him enough time and he’ll make something happen because he never quits.” – Cail MacLean on Matthew Phillips coming through in the clutch again for the Heat