CALGARY, AB – Behind a 36-save effort from rookie netminder Dustin Wolf and a three-point night from forward Adam Ruzicka, the Stockton Heat (1-2-0-0) overcame an early deficit en route to a 4-2 victory Wednesday night over the visiting Toronto Marlies (4-3-0-0) at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
The Marlies found the back of the net on their first shot of the evening, drawing first blood for the third consecutive game. The resilient Heat battled back, with alternate captain Zac Leslie lighting the lamp just 1:02 before the break to steal momentum into the first intermission.
Stockton snagged the upper hand in the second period, potting a pair of goals from Ruzicka and Alex Petrovic, the latter coming on the power play, to take a 3-1 lead into the final frame.
It was in the third where Wolf excelled, stopping 19 shots in the final 20 minutes and helping the Heat kill a pair of abbreviated 5-on-3 advantages for the Marlies near the midpoint of the frame. Ruzicka then beat Andrew D’Agostini short side on the power play after being sprung by Matthew Phillips with 1:48 remaining to put the game away.
Special teams proved to be a difference in the game, with the Heat cashing in twice on the power play and holding the Marlies scoreless on six chances.
– Colton Poolman, Connor Zary and Emilio Pettersen all recorded their first professional points in the contest.
– Connor Mackey earned his first AHL point with an assist.
– Adam Ruzicka recorded his fourth-career multi-point game, first since February 12, 2020 against Ontario (12 games played since). It was his second-career three-point effort, last on November 27 at Ontario, also a two-goal, one-assist effort.
– Matthew Phillips notched a pair of helpers, each coming on Ruzicka’s goals.
– For the second time in three games, Toronto scored on its first shot of the game. Wolf responded with 23-straight saves and stopped 36 of the next 37 pucks he faced in his first AHL win.
– Stockton’s 6-for-6 performance on the penalty kill included a pair of 5-on-3 kills.
STK PP – 2-4
STK PK – 6-6
First – Dustin Wolf (36 saves)
Second – Adam Ruzicka (2 goals, 1 assist)
Third – Zac Leslie (1 goal)
W – Dustin Wolf (38 shots faced, 36 saves)
L – Andrew D’Agostini (28 shots faced, 24 saves)
The Heat and Marlies will close out their four-game set Friday, a 2 p.m. MST, 1 p.m. PST matinee at the Scotiabank Saddledome.