HEAT (24-10-2-3) vs. REIGN (18-18-4-1)
7:00 p.m. | AHLTV | Spreaker | iHeartRadio | Fox Sports 1280
2019-20 Season Series: 3-3-0-0
2019-20 Heat Home Record: 10-6-2-1
2019-20 Reign Road Record: 11-11-0-0
Power Play – 37-for-145 (25.5%); 1st
Penalty Kill – 149-for-169 (88.2%); 2nd
Power Play – 22-for-163 (13.5%); T-26th
Penalty Kill – 150-for-193 (77.7%); 29th
2019-20 Leading Scorers
Points – Gawdin (38)
Goals – Robinson (16)
Points – Frk (30)
Goals – Frk (20)
Stockton snapped out of its losing skid in a big way on Monday, a start-to-finish demolition of the Colorado Eagles in a 5-0 win. Buddy Robinson scored just 26 seconds into the contest, the fastest goal to start a game this season for Stockton, and Byron Froese (2g), Glenn Gawdin (1g,1a) and Austin Czarnik (2a) all recorded multiple points in the game. Stockton outshot the Eagles by a 43-18 margin in the dominant victory. The Heat enter tonight’s game as the AHL’s top team when scoring first on the year, an impressive 16-1-1-2 when getting a 1-0 lead this season. The lone regulation loss came against Ontario, a 2-1 setback on January 4 at Stockton Arena.
The Reign have struggled to string together wins since the club’s hot start early this season. After going 8-3-2-0 in the first 13 contests, Ontario comes into tonight’s game having gone 10-15-2-1 in their last 28 – now clinging to fourth in the Pacific Division, two points ahead of the Bakersfield Condors with one more game played. Ontario will be without leading scorer Martin Frk for tonight’s contest – a skater who has given Stockton trouble this season with six points (4g,2a) in four games against the Heat. Ontario did receive a reinforcement on Thursday, getting Blake Lizotte from the Los Angeles Kings. Should he slide into the lineup at Stockton Arena, it will be his first AHL game of the season. He has 15 points (4g,11a) in 45 games with LA this year.
US VS. THEM
This has been a hard-fought series from the jump this season, the teams coming into tonight’s game with three wins a side over the first six games on the year. Ontario has gotten the better of the Heat at Stockton Arena with wins in two of three, and it was the Reign who got the last laugh in a 5-1 win in Ontario on January 17. The Heat, led by a foursome of Luke Philp, Adam Ruzicka, Buddy Robinson and Corey Schueneman with five points thus far in the season series, will look to snap a two-game skid against the Reign on Friday. The Reign have been able to overcome a stark contrast in special teams play in the head-to-head matchups, Stockton scoring on four of 19 power plays while limiting Ontario to just 2-for-22 on the man-advantage.
Starting on time has been important for both teams this season, with Stockton tops in the AHL in point percentage (.875) when lighting the lamp first and the Reign tied for the second-best percentage at .833. The Reign have struggled to take the early edge, though, entering Friday’s game with the fewest times gaining the early lead in the league – just 15 times in 41 games. Both teams have stark record differences based on first period leads – the Heat 12-1-0-2 when leading after 20 minutes and 4-7-1-1 when trailing while Ontario is 9-1-0-0 and 4-13-0-1, respectively.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Heat – Luke Philp
Philp has quieted down some in the scoring department after a torrid stretch from the middle of November through the end of December, piling in 15 goals over seven weeks. Philp has proven to be a barometer of success against Ontario – one of two players (Schueneman) to score in each win for the Heat over the Reign. Both players have recorded four of their five points against Ontario in the three wins.
Reign – Cal Petersen
Cal Petersen has gotten the nod in five of six meetings against Stockton this year and has had to battle with a 3.89 Goals Against Average and .899 Save Percentage. Those numbers both were helped drastically by his outstanding play in the teams’ meeting a week ago, the netminder making 50 stops on 51 shots on goal by Stockton – the most in a game this season for the Heat.