The energy at Stockton Arena that fed from the Stockton Heat’s 7-0 win over the Rockford IceHogs Saturday night had yet to leave the building as the Heat hit the ice for Monday’s morning skate, and even again today on Tuesday.
When you’re on the winning side of a 7-0 score, there isn’t much to not smile about at practice and that’s a feeling that was apparent on every guy’s face in the room.
“It was really a combination of everyone buying in and being on the same page no matter what the situation was,” forward Bryce Van Brabant said. “Obviously the power play was good for us early on, but when everyone is tenacious on pucks and playing so well together it makes it a pretty easy game.”
Head Coach Ryan Huska agrees, clarifying that the leaders of the Heat really set the tone in the locker room before they ever hit the ice and that led to the hot start.
“Our new leadership group did a great job of making sure our guys were prepared to play within the situation that was opening night,” Coach Huska said. “There can be a lot of distractions and I thought we were sharp right from the drop of the puck.”
Last Saturday’s big win wasn’t the first time Coach Huska has led Calgary’s AHL affiliate to a shutout win in overwhelming fashion.
In 2014-15, the Adirondack Flames took down the Syracuse Crunch by a score of 10-0 in what was their largest margin of victory all season.
When it comes to comparing the two games, though, Coach Huska doesn’t think they’re too related to one another.
“Last year against Syracuse was kind of a funny game,” Huska said with a grin. “There were some weird goals that went in and it seemed like all the bounces went our way. I thought we played much more soundly this past weekend and gave up a lot less opportunities.”
Forward Markus Granlund, who scored a goal and an assist in both the 7-0 win and the 10-0 win last season, saw the difference between the two games as the power play and how crisp it was early for Stockton.
“That was a good example of what we want our power play to look like every night,” Granlund said. “It was just one of those nights when every shot feels like it’s going in and that gave us a ton of confidence.”
The power play was absolutely paramount in Saturday’s win. Everyone that was interviewed about the game brought it up in some way, but Coach Huska’s explanation of how his team played with the man advantage was perhaps the most telling.
“The power play was hungry and it was hungry early,” Huska said. “They were really the group of guys that were determined and dictated the way that game was going to be played.”
Hopefully the Heat can continue their success on the power play this Thursday when the San Jose Barracuda come to town.