LOVELAND, Colo. – Behind a suffocating penalty-kill and an explosive second period on the offensive end, the Stockton Heat bested the Colorado Eagles in the first game of the season by a 5-2 final score Friday Night at the Budweiser Events Center. The Heat held the Eagles scoreless on eight chances with the man-advantage while Buddy Robinson netted the club’s first shorthanded goal of the campaign, the second of three scores in the second frame. Artyom Zagidulin was stout between the pipes, turning away 28 of 30 shots faced on the night with some stellar efforts along the way. Matthew Phillips got the scoring started, striking 13:18 into the contest, then a three-goal onslaught in the second period pushed the game out of reach for the home team. Six players recorded their first point as a member of the Heat in the contest, including goals from Byron Froese, Justin Kirkland and Alexander Yelesin and assists from Zac Leslie, Zac Rinaldo and Adam Ruzicka.
SCORING AND PENALTY SUMMARY
W: Artyom Zagidulin (30 shots, 28 saves)
L: Antoine Bibeau (24 shots, 19 saves)
Three Stars: First – Artyom Zagidulin (28 svs); Second – Matthew Phillips (1g); Third – Michael Joly (1g)
Final Shots: STK – 24, COL – 30
Power Plays: STK – 0-3, COL – 0-8
– A total of 10 players made their Stockton debuts in the contest, including Zac Leslie, Froese, Artyom Zagidulin, Justin Kirkland, Martin Pospisil, Brandon Davidson, Adam Ruzicka, Zac Rinaldo, Luke Philp and Alexander Yelesin.
– Six players recorded their first respective point as a member of the Heat in the game: Froese (1g), Kirkland (1g), Yelesin (1g), Leslie (1a), Rinaldo (1a), Ruzicka (1a).
– Matthew Phillips lit the lamp first, with an assist coming from Leslie. Phillips posted seven points (3g,4a) in eight games against the Eagles a year ago.
– Froese’s goal in the second period was his first point as a member of the Heat, wasting no time after being named team captain earlier in the day.
– Buddy Robinson’s goal came shorthanded, continuing a trend from the 2018-19 season. The Heat led the AHL in shorthanded goals last year with 17.
– The Heat are now 4-1 all-time in season openers and 7-1-0-1 all-time against the Colorado Eagles.
The Heat close out their weekend set against the Eagles Saturday at 6:05 p.m. Stockton’s home opener will take place on Saturday, October 12 at 6 p.m. against the San Diego Gulls.