STOCKTON, Calif. – Justin Kirkland scored Stockton’s (1-0-1-0) first goal of the campaign in Saturday’s opening frame, and rookie forwards Walker Duehr and Jakob Pelletier each added their first respective professional goals as the Heat topped Tucson (1-1-0-0) by a 3-2 final Saturday at Stockton Arena.
The game was deadlocked until a Heat power play just past the midway point of the frame, when Kirkland got the final touch on a puck that found the back of the net, redirecting an Adam Ruzicka shot to put the home team up 1-0. The lead was short-lived, though, as the Roadrunners answered back with 1:05 to go in the opening frame.
It did not take long for the Heat to regain the upper hand as Duehr collected a cross-crease feed from Luke Philp and buried it just 14 ticks into the second stanza. Pelletier then followed with a score of his own in short order, potting a rebound just 1:42 later for a two-goal edge.
Tucson was able to tighten the game early in the third, Cam Dineen finding the back of the net 5:28 into the final frame, but the Heat were able to shut the door and earn an opening weekend split.
- Justin Kirkland’s goal in the first period was Stockton’s first of the season, snapping the team’s scoreless run at 76 minutes and seven seconds into the season.
- Walker Duehr and Jakob Pelletier each scored their first professional goals during the second period, Duehr’s coming just 14 seconds into the frame.
- Duehr and Pelletier’s goals came just 102 seconds apart.
- The win was the first for head coach Mitch Love.
- Dustin Wolf finished the opening weekend with 66 stops on 69 shots faced, a .957 Save Percentage.
- The Heat took three of a possible four points in the opening weekend two-game set against Tucson.
STK PP – 1-for-2
STK PK – 0-for-1
First – Jakob Pelletier (1 goal, game-winning goal)
Second – Justin Kirkland (1 goal)
Third – Walker Duehr (1 goal)
W – Dustin Wolf (32 saves on 34 shots faced)
L – Josef Korenar (22 saves on 25 shots faced)
The Heat hit the road next weekend, with games Friday at San Diego and Saturday at Bakersfield. Stockton then returns home the following weekend, playing host to the Colorado Eagles on Saturday, October 30 at 6 p.m. and the San Jose Barracuda on Sunday, October 31 at 5 p.m.