HEAT (19-6-2-3) vs. REIGN (15-14-3-1)
7:00 p.m. | AHLTV | Spreaker | iHeartRadio | Fox Sports Radio
2019-20 Season Series: 2-1-0-0
2019-20 Heat Home Record: 7-3-2-1
2019-20 Reign Road Record: 10-8-0-0
Power Play – 30-for-116 (25.9%); 2nd
Penalty Kill – 118-for-136 (86.8%); 2nd
Power Play – 19-for-130 (14.6%); 24th
Penalty Kill – 126-for-162 (77.8%); 28th
2019-20 Leading Scorers
Points – Gawdin (33)
Goals – Phillips/Robinson (14)
Points – Frk (23)
Goals – Frk (14)
Stockton looks to start 2020 strong, playing host to the Ontario Reign. The Heat have won two of three matchups with Ontario this season, both wins coming on the road – an 8-5 barn-burner that featured a five-goal first and a 3-2 overtime battle that was ended by Austin Czarnik in overtime. The Heat are looking to earn at least a point in their fifth-straight home game, having won three of the last four at Stockton Arena. Czarnik has the hot hand right now for Stockton, his current run of five-straight games with a goal matching Luke Philp for the longest of the season for the Heat.
Ontario comes into Stockton having won back-to-back road games over San Diego and Bakersfield to close out 2019, earning a pair of one-goal wins. The Reign have shined in close games so far this season, having found a way to earn at least a point in 15 of 16 one-goal games – 11 wins in those contests. While the club’s leading scorer Martin Frk has been recalled by NHL affiliate Los Angeles, the Reign have gotten strong contributions from Mikey Eyssimont in their last two games with a pair of multi-point efforts, his fourth and fifth of the season.
US VS. THEM
The road team has won all three meetings between Stockton and Ontario this season, the Heat earning a pair of wins at Toyota Arena for the season series lead. The Reign have felt right at home at Stockton Arena in the all-time series history, the Reign owning an 11-6-3-0 record at Stockton. In this season’s series, the Heat have been led by a pair of rookies in Adam Ruzicka and Luke Philp, each with a pair of goals to match the injured Matthew Phillips’ output against the Reign. Stockton has owned the special teams battle between the clubs, operating at 25-percent on the power play while limiting Ontario to just 2-for-13 on the man-advantage.
Stockton has thrived on the defensive end of late, holding opponents to just 25 goals in 10 games in the month of December. The Heat are coming off of the team’s first shutout since January of 2018, blanking the Barracuda 4-0 after nearly two years without putting up a goose egg. In Stockton’s last two meetings with Ontario, the Heat have limited the Reign to just five goals – two over the last 105 minutes.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Heat – Glenn Gawdin
Gawdin has quietly put together one of the best scoring seasons in the AHL, coming into tonight’s game third in the league with 33 points (11g,22a) on the year. The forward, who has already matched his rookie season goal output, has recorded eight points over Stockton’s last four games with three goals and five helpers. He’ll look to hit his stride against Ontario, entering Friday’s showdown with just one point in three games.
Reign – Gabriel Vilardi
Vilardi has found his way onto the score sheet in back-to-back games and will look to make it three-straight for the second time this season in Friday’s game. The forward has three points in three games against the Heat this season, notching the game-tying goal in the last matchup between the Pacific Division foes midway through the third period on December 11.