TONIGHT’S MATCHUP: Stockton Heat at Chicago Wolves
SERIES: Game 6; STK Trails 3-2
LOCATION: Allstate Arena | Chicago, Ill.
TIME: 5:00 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.
The Western Conference Finals heads back to Chicago after the Stockton Heat once again escaped elimination with an overtime win, this time by a 3-2 final score with the game-winner coming from defenseman Connor Mackey 14:27 into the extra time. Mackey and Byron Froese each posted multi-point efforts as the Heat extended the series and climbed back within striking distance, now down three games to two.
Connor Mackey’s game-winning goal was his first score of the Calder Cup Playoffs, the defenseman now with a goal and three assists through six games of postseason play. It was Mackey’s second-career game-winner and first since January 9, an overtime win on the road at Ontario in a battle atop of the Pacific Division.
FOLLOW THE LEADER
Facing elimination in each of the past two games, captain Byron Froese has stepped up his production with four total points – all assists – and a plus-3 rating in the two overtime wins at Stockton Arena. The captain leads the Heat with six points in the Western Conference Finals, second among all skaters on either team in the series behind only Chicago’s Jack Drury.
I DIDN’T HEAR NO BELL
The Heat have staved off elimination in the past two games, facing deficits in each before prevailing in OT. Prior to Glenn Gawdin and Mackey’s overtime tallies, the Heat had been 0-3 all-time in playoff games decided beyond regulation, including a mark of 0-2 this year with losses at Colorado in Game Three and at Chicago in Game One. Stockton is the 20th team in AHL history to force a sixth game after trailing 3-0, with 139 squads prior to the Heat facing the three-game deficit.
In a battle of the top two teams from the AHL’s regular season, it’s no surprise that the series has been a hard-fought tussle with four one-goal games through five contests. The never-say-die nature of each of these teams has yielded comebacks in four of the five contests, with the team leading at the game’s halfway point of regulation owning a record of 0-4 in the season series. Game Three, won by Chicago, was tied 0-0 after 30 minutes.
Both of Stockton’s regulation goals on Saturday came from rookies, with Walker Duehr tying the game at one apiece and Jakob Pelletier putting the Heat ahead 2-1 early in the third. It was Duehr’s fifth goal of the playoffs, second on the roster behind only Justin Kirkland, while Pelletier notched his fourth – third-most on the team.