Don’t look now, but the Heat are catching fire.
Stockton is riding high following a successful weekend set against the Colorado Eagles, a two-game sweep of the club’s Pacific Division opponent with a pair of exciting victories on Saturday and Sunday.
Beyond the weekend, Stockton has won three of its last four and looks to be firing on all cylinders as the Flames’ AHL affiliate hits the home stretch and final playoff push.
“These were two big games,” said Heat head coach Cail MacLean. “We looked at this weekend as a really important weekend for us. Every one is going to be from here on out. For the guys to come through, and to come through at home, was important.”
Top to bottom, everyone in a Heat sweater pitched in.
On Saturday it was the depth and grit that shined, fourth-line forwards Mike McMurtry and Scott Sabourin posting multi-point efforts, the first of the year for each, while setting the tone for the weekend as the former lit the lamp just 3:12 into Saturday’s game to give Stockton a lead it would never lose. Sabourin made more contributions than his two assists would suggest, dropping the gloves twice while rousing the home crowd to a frenzy. The first game of the two-game set against Colorado also was about the headliners, with Dillon Dube recording three points (2g,1a) en route to being named first star of the night while continuing his dominance against the Eagles.
Sunday saw the top-of-the-depth-chart skill players and special teams units shine. Alan Quine, apparently allergic to two-goal efforts, recorded his third hat trick of the season with a goal in each period. He has a single two-goal output this year. Matthew Phillips regained his scoring touch with a goal as well, snapping a stretch of 13 games in which he’d been snakebitten on the score sheet. The Heat gained four goals from special teams, Quine depositing a pair on the man-advantage and Stockton’s penalty kill outscoring Colorado’s power play by a 2-1 tally on the night with shorties from Ryan Lomberg and Buddy Robinson.
It was an exciting weekend at Stockton Arena and potentially a turning point as the Heat hit their final 19 games of the year with a full head of steam. It would’ve been difficult to script a better weekend for Stockton, which had struggled on home ice and been cold since the All-Star Break, entering Saturday’s game having lost four of five.
“Winning on home ice is important,” added MacLean. “Nobody feels good in the locker room about not having a better home ice record, but we have a lot of opportunities left to take advantage and make sure we can rectify it and put ourselves in a good position by being good at home in February and March.”
– Stockton finishes the season series with a record of 6-1-0-1 against Colorado.
– Jon Gillies has won three-straight starts between the pipes, stopping 87 of 94 shots faced (.926 SVP) in that span.
– Saturday’s game saw Stockton and Colorado combine for 100 penalty minutes, setting Stockton season highs for combined PIMs, Heat PIMs (56) and opponent PIMs (44).
– Alan Quine finishes the season series with 12 points (3g,9a) in eight games against the Eagles and brings a five-game scoring streak into Wednesday’s game at Ontario.
– Dillon Dube recorded his first shorthanded point of the season with an assist on Buddy Robinson’s shorthanded goal Sunday, his first of the season.
– Glenn Gawdin posted his second three-point effort of the season with three assists on Sunday.
“(Saturday) we had Sabourin, McMurtry and Pollock who really came through for us, then (Sunday) we had some of our bigger guns like Alan Quine coming through. Certainly along the way we had different guys sprinkled in like Dillon Dube, Glenn Gawdin tonight won a huge amount of draws for us and had three assists. Guys all over the board, young and old, prominent and guys that are getting more opportunity, that’s important for a team at this time of the year to make sure we have a balanced attack. Not everyone’s going to be able to do it every night so you have to have people pick up the slack for them.” – MacLean on the team’s scoring depth over the weekend.
“We stressed this weekend big time. We knew we had to get four points, and that started with (Saturday). We knew we had to be ready today to make sure we closed it off. I think the guys did a good job.” – Quine on the weekend sweep.
“Just game-by-game, line mates are clicking. Throwing the whole power play, whatever chances we get. Credit to the guys who got the puck to me tonight, the whole team effort was good and we had some really good chances. We play well against Colorado and it looks good on individuals.” – Dube after his three-point effort Saturday.
“It was a total team effort. The fourth line, Pollock and (Sabourin) and I, we did a good job keeping things simple and playing a tough, physical game. We capitalized on opportunities they were giving us on our forecheck, and luckily enough we were able to cash in on a few. It was just an all-around good game. Any time the fourth line can provide a spark for the team, it’s huge.” – McMurtry on his three-point game Saturday.
“I don’t think it changes anything. I’ve been working towards it for a long time, just so happens a couple of bounces went my way tonight. I’m just going to keep doing the same thing, playing the same way and if pucks keep going in then that’s great.” – Sabourin on his multi-point effort Saturday.