Hey gang. First, a quick housekeeping note: our beloved Mike Cadarette has decided to move on from hockey blogging to a farm upstate. I assume the rolling fields are covered with snow by this point, so hopefully he brought a winter coat or something.
That said, this leaves us a gap when it comes to our Heat coverage. I’ll try to at least give weekly updates on the farm team’s status, perhaps with the occasional in-person observation from my season ticket holder friend, but as I can’t actually watch their games I’m more limited to “here’s some neat stuff from their boxscore” in terms of actual content.
So if you or somebody you know is a regular Stockton watcher and you’re willing to be a total nerd writing about the farm team, drop me a line (my email is in my profile)! We’ll try to work out how we’ll cover them for the future.
In the meantime, here’s the Heat’s week that was.
December 16: Condors 3, Heat 2
The Heat were down 2-0 going into the third at home. Enter: Derek Grant.
Remember Grant, our beloved fourth line centre who was perhaps rather unfairly demoted? Well, he’s been kicking some ass of late, and currently sits at 13 points over 15 games. Something that helped get him there was this game.
Down 2-0 going into the third, and Grant tied up the game. He also had 11 shots on net, so it’s probably safe to say he was really feeling it that night – and really, really wanted to win.
Unfortunately, that was a win his team couldn’t get. Grant’s two goals were all the Heat got, and the Condors scored on the power play with just over two minutes to go in regulation for what would be the game winner.
The good news is it doesn’t look like the game was all Grant. Most of it seemingly was, but he wasn’t the only one going for it: Emile Poirier had nine shots on net as well. He assisted on Grant’s second goal, but that was it for him.
Grant topped off his frustration by getting into a fight in the game’s final minute. At the very least, he does seem like a pretty awesome leader for the kids down on the farm.
December 19: Heat 3, Condors 2
After getting rained out the day before, the Heat were finally set to host the Condors up in Sacramento for the AHL’s first-ever outdoor game in California.
It took just over five minutes for the Condors to open the scoring, and they carried that 1-0 lead until the second period, when Grant – who else? – tied the game on the power play.
Entering the third period with a 1-1 tie, it was Oliver Kylington who scored, giving the Heat their first lead of the week. Drew Shore added to that a few minutes later, giving the Heat a 3-1 lead with just nine minutes to play.
The Condors scored on the power play in the game’s final five minutes, but that was all they got, as the Heat won the outdoor game by a score of 3-2.
Shore, along with Kenny Agostino and, once again, Poirier, led the way with four shots on net apiece. Agostino picked up an assist.
So hey, that’s 13 shots for Poirier over two games. He only has four goals and nine points through 20 games, but at least at this point in the season, it certainly doesn’t seem to be for lack of trying.
December 20: Barracuda 5, Heat 4
This… was probably not a game to write home about.
Things seemed to be going well to start. The Heat jumped out to a three-goal lead with tallies from Freddie Hamilton, Poirier (finally!), and even Morgan Klimchuk, who scored his first-ever professional goal on a five-minute major power play.
Not even a minute after Klimchuk scored, though, the Barracuda got on the board with a shorthanded goal, breaking the shutout Joni Ortio had going at that point.
A few minutes later, they scored three goals over the span of 50 seconds, and suddenly, what had been a commanding 3-0 game now saw the Heat down 4-3.
Ortio remained in net, and the Barracuda scored once again in the third period to make it a 5-3 game. Austin Carroll added a goal in the game’s final five minutes to draw it back within one (Klimchuk assisted, his first professional assist as well), but the Heat ultimately fell 5-4.
Notable: Hamilton had six shots on net, Klimchuk scored the first points of his professional career, and after trying so hard all week long, Poirier finally got one in the back of the net (he only had two shots that game, though).
Notable for all the wrong reasons: Ortio gave up three goals within a span of 50 seconds. Those 50 seconds killed the Heat’s chance at getting their 10th win of the season.
The Heat finish the week still at the bottom of the Pacific Division. Their 9-11-2 record leaves them the only team in the division below .500. They’ll be back in action on Saturday, Dec. 26 in Bakersfield.