TONIGHT’S MATCHUP: Stockton Heat vs. Chicago Wolves
SERIES: Game 5; STK Trails 3-1
LOCATION: Stockton Arena | Stockton, Calif.
TIME: 6:00 p.m. PDT
TUNE IN: Today’s game can be streamed on AHLTV, and the radio call is available on Fox Sports Radio 1280 or online via Spreaker.
Looking to make a historic run, the Stockton Heat kept their season alive with a come-from-behind, 4-3 win in overtime on Friday against the Chicago Wolves. Glenn Gawdin was the hero with two goals to help Stockton overcome a 3-1 third period deficit, the first coming in the last minute of regulation to force overtime and the second ending the extra session, while the Heat were able to stave off elimination. The clubs clash again on Saturday with the Heat hoping to force to the series back to Chicago for Game Six.
OH MY GAWDIN
Glenn Gawdin claimed his first multi-goal game since January 15 on Friday, leading the way for the Heat in the dramatic OT win to extend the Western Conference Finals. Gawdin’s game-tying goal was his second marker of the playoffs while his game-winner was his first since December 7. It was the centerman’s second multi-point game of the postseason, the previous coming in a three-point effort against Bakersfield on May 13.
Justin Kirkland continued his point-per-game pace through the playoffs with a goal and an assist on Friday. The forward’s goal came just eight seconds after the Wolves took a two-goal lead in the third, the fastest response to an opponent’s score in Heat postseason history, and he factored in on the game-winner with an assist. Kirkland already owns Stockton’s single playoff records for goals (7) and points (11) in one postseason.
AGAINST THE ODDS
The Heat overcame long odds in erasing a third period deficit against the Wolves, Chicago coming into the game Friday with an unblemished 7-0 mark in the playoffs when leading after two. The Wolves were a remarkable 32-0-1-1 in the regular season in such games, while the Heat were 7-12-0-0 in the regular season when trailing after 40 minutes. It was the first time the Heat were behind on the scoreboard heading into the third.
Two evenly-matched teams have had to battle to the very end in three of four contests of the Western Conference Finals, with comebacks a common theme. The Heat led 3-1 in Game One and had a 2-1 edge in Game Two only to see the upper hand disappear, and the Wolves had a two-goal edge in the third period on Friday. The team leading at the halfway point of regulation is 0-3 in the series, with Game Three tied 0-0 through 30 minutes.
Gawdin’s game-winner gave the Heat their first-ever playoff overtime win in franchise history, snapping a three-game losing streak dating back to the 2017 playoffs. Stockton had been 0-2 in this year’s Calder Cup Playoffs, falling on the road at Colorado and at Chicago. Friday’s game was the first time ever that a Heat postseason contest went beyond regulation at Stockton Arena.