The Heat week that was: Got a goalie again, apparently

The Stockton Heat had four games this past week, during which they went 3-1. They’re currently on a three-game winning streak, although some of what transpired was a little nuts to get there.

Despite their recent success, the Heat are still the only Pacific Division team to have a record below .500, so there’s still a lot of work to do. 

December 29: Reign 2, Heat 1

From the looks of things, this wasn’t a boring, low-scoring affair. Okay, so it was low scoring, but the two teams combined for 84 shots – 40 for the Reign, and 44 for the Heat – so it was probably far from boring.

The Reign entered the third period with a 2-0 lead, and although Bryce Van Brabant was able to cut that to one with his fifth of the season, that was all the Heat were able to get. Joni Ortio stopped 42 of 44 shots for a much-improved .955 save percentage.

Van Brabant, along with Freddie Hamilton, Derek Grant, and Ryan Lomberg led the way with five shots on net each.

I can also tell you via my season ticket holder friend that when the Heat lost, Oliver Kylington yelled an expletive so loud in frustration it was heard from the stands, so at least you know he cares. The Heat had 17 shots in the third, so they were really trying to tie it up.

December 31: Heat 4, Reign 1

Most of this game’s scoring action came towards the end of the game. Kenny Agostino opened the scoring in the first period, and Emile Poirier made it 2-0 early in the third; both goals were assisted by Kylington. Van Brabant seemingly put the game away by making it 3-0 with just over three minutes to go with a power play goal, but Ontario scored just 22 seconds later to give them hope. Brett Kulak got his first of the season with an empty netter to seal the deal.

That Ontario goal spoiled Ortio’s shutout bid, as he stopped 26 of 27 shots he faced. He has yet to get a shutout this season.

The Heat only registered 19 shots on net, including the empty netter; Grant led the way with four.

Shots weren’t the story this game, though: fights were. Hunter Smith and Curt Gogol had a scrap before scoring even started, with both players getting unsportsmanlike conduct penalties; about half a minute later, Poirier and Kris Newbury fought, too. 

The second period was clean, and then the third period happened. Following the empty netter, Lomberg and Joel Lowry fought, then Mitchell Heard and Ryan Horvat fought, and then, finally, with 18 seconds to go, Van Brabant fought Jordan Samuels-Thomas after Gogol was called for charging and took mutual roughing calls with Patrick Sieloff.

That wasn’t as crazy as things would get this week, though.

January 2: Heat 7, Stars 6 (SO)

Texas scored just 1:35 into the game. Bill Arnold scored 33 seconds later. Texas scored just over a minute after that, and just like that, Ortio was pulled. Apparently there’s no love for two good back-to-back goaltending performances when you’ve let in two goals in just over the first three minutes of the game.

With Kent Simpson then in net, Texas scored on him on the power play, and Grant scored to make it a 3-2 game after one. 

The second opened with two quick Texas goals, suddenly making it a 5-2 game just three minutes into the second period. Arnold scored to make it 5-3, but another Texas goal late in the second restored the three-goal lead. Fortunately, with just 19 seconds left in the period, Hamilton scored a power play goal to cut it back down to two, ending the second with a 6-4 score.

Ortio was back in net to start the third, and the Heat didn’t give up any more goals. Rather, they scored two more to tie the game via Turner Elson, on the power play, just 22 seconds into the start of the third, and Van Brabant with his seventh of the season a few minutes later.

The game ended up requiring a shootout, in which Ortio only gave up one goal on five shooters, while Grant and Elson scored to win the game for Stockton. Agostino, Hamilton, and Arnold were the other shooters, but all were stopped.

Arnold and Nakladal led the way with points, with the former scoring two goals and an assist and the latter three assists. The Heat generated 44 shots on net, 13 (!!) of which were Grant’s. They needed them, as the Heat’s goaltending was subpar this game, although Ortio was able to shut the door in the third which helped get the win.

January 3: Heat 3, Condors 1

This was another game the Heat seemed to dominate. Putting up 47 shots on Laurent Brossoit, both Grant and Agostino beat him (Zack Kassian had the Condors’ lone goal on 30 shots on Ortio). An empty netter from Grant, scoring his 14th goal of the season, sealed the deal. 

Grant led the way with 10 shots, while Agostino put up seven. That’s 32 shots on net for Grant over four games, which is kind of insane. 

Ortio had a .967 to get back into the good save percentage books after the apparent chaos that was the game the day before. His AHL save percentage on the season is now .897. 

  • KACaribou

    I am usually a big defender of Coach Bob the Builder and I have the “Trashes” to prove it, but I have to admit I have questioned his treatment of Ortio from the very beginning of the season. I don’t blame the young man for losing his confidence. Glad to see he’s working his way back.

    • everton fc

      I still think Hartley treated Ortio based on Ortio’s attitude. There’s evidence of this in the press, is there not? If he had poor work habits, couldn’t stop shots in practice, and so on, he wouldn’t get a start from Hartley. If he was vocal, like Baertschi, he won’t see the ice in Calgary.

      I trust Hartley. He has in a playoff chase w/a roster that’s still not great (Colborne first line RW is proof) and seems to know how to get things accomplished in practice. Ortio’s rebound is good to see. If he keeps it going, and we can unload Hiller, he’ll get a long look up here. But Ramo has solidified the #1 keeper spot, for now, and has done it legitimately, at the NHL level. He’s been on a good run. Fantastic, in fact.

      Good article, by the way. Van Brabant’s game, of late, is encouraging. Lomberg is becoming a real pest. If he could only score goals!

      • RickT


        There are other options, he just refuses them [because he’s a middling coach, at best]!

        See: Bollig, Brandon over Jooris, Josh as another example. Or under-12-minutes-a-night Bennet, Samuel. etc. etc.

        • FeyWest

          To be fair NO ONE has been good on the Top Line RW Bennett included, it has been a revolving door all season so I have no issue with First Line Colborne for now but think they should just go back to having Jones there for now until Frolik is back.

          AFAIK Bennett’s been treated much like Monahan (in his first season) but Bennett is a different player so there may be some different processes and goals established. As long as its for long term development I’m fine with being patient on Bennett. We may see Granlund and Bennett swapped now that granlund has seemed to have cooled off abit since December 11ish, and Bennett has been getting more ice time and PP time now which if I remember the exact thing happened after Christmas.

          I’ve seen Jooris and before his time watching from the pressbox he didn’t look buch better than Raymond, plays would die on his stick and he was forcing plays. Since coming back he’s been strong in all three zones.

          Hartley certainly isn’t the best but he’s not the worst either so sure he’s a “middling” coach but there’s no one on the market I would want right now. Hopefully we can grow from within and turn Huska into a strong coach, we’ll see how things go long-term but right now since we are still rebuilding I’m not too concerned with our coaching situation.

          • ChinookArchYYC

            The difference between Bennett and Monahan’s 1st year is Monahan was extremely sheltered. That is not the case for Bennett.

            I don’t always agree with BH, but he is keeping Johnny with Monahan, which is bringing the majority of the goals this season. Colborne is not a great choice, but he can win faceoffs if Mony gets tossed. Would prefer a better RW, but we don’t have many options.
            Frolik is the best choice. Until then, you could try Jooris or Jones, I guess.

      • T&A4Flames

        I haven’t heard anything re: poor attitude from Ortio in the press. Regarding poor work habits etc., when you really aren’t getting any practice time either, since Hartley prefered his 2 guys from last year getting prime practice reps, it’s going to get hard to loosen up and play/practice your game.

  • KACaribou

    There are always reasons for decisions the coaching staff makes that we are not privy to. There are very, very good reasons why Hartley is coach and we aren’t!

    • ChinookArchYYC

      Sure, and sometimes the decisons are wrong. Just because a someone is given a job doesn’t mean he’ll be good at it. Hartley’s done some good things to say the least, but no one is perfect. No one should be above questioning, even the best leaders. I can understand why you get tired of all the Hartley jabs. That said, maybe you can understand why some get tired of fans that blindly accept everything from the Flames leadership do as infalliable.

  • RickT

    Off topic: Sweden finished 4th at the world juniors. Sunk by a lack of offense from their blueline. Their highest scoring defenseman was 9th on the team. None of the other contending teams had their top D that low. Finland had one 4th (Juolevi), US had one 3rd (Werenski), Russia had one 2nd (Provorov). Even Canada, the tournament’s flop, had one as high as 6th on the team (Hicketts).

    If only Sweden had access to some offensively gifted D who could have helped them in this tournament.

    Oh well.