The Heat week that was: So much for that winning streak

After winning three games in a row, the Stockton Heat played just two games this past week – and they lost both, so so much for that win streak. They remain at the bottom of the Pacific Division standings, and three games below .500.

January 6: Barracuda 4, Heat 3 (OT)

Two goals by Morgan Klimchuk and Kenny Agostino in the first period gave the Heat a 2-0 lead. Even though San Jose scored in the second period to cut that lead in half, a Derek Grant tally not even two minutes later allowed them to maintain that two goal lead, and enter the third period up 3-1.

But the Heat weren’t able maintain that lead. The Barracuda scored early in the third to once again make it a one-goal game. A late high-sticking penalty by Brett Kulak eventually led to San Jose’s game-tying goal in the final minute, forcing overtime. The Heat were outshot 16-9 in the third, but had the advantage 35-33 through regulation.

It was only the Barracuda who got any shots in over time, though, including Nikolay Goldobin’s game winner.

Standouts in the shot department: Agostino with seven and Grant with six; to his credit, while he didn’t score, Emile Poirier had four shots on net as well.

Kevin Poulin returned to the net to stop 32 of 36 shots for a .889 save percentage. 

January 8: Reign 6, Heat 1

Um, oops?

This was actually a rather symmetrical game on the scoreboard. First the Reign scored three goals, then, late in the second, Drew Shore scored for the Heat, and then the Reign scored another three goals. The Heat didn’t seem to be good in any type of play, as two of Ontario’s goals were at even strength, two were on the power play, and two were on the penalty kill.

Joni Ortio was back in net, stopping 29 of the 35 shots he faced. The Heat only had 24 shots on net themselves, with Dustin Stevenson leading the way with four. 

  • The GREAT Walter White

    Who cares about wins/losses….

    Stockton is for player development: most of our prospects are going backwards in their development.

    That is the real story!!!

    WW

    • The GREAT Walter White

      One could argue that the two things go hand in hand but I absolutely agree with the sentiment. We need to know why so many prospects have trended in the wrong direction this season. Who’s boots on the ground down there anyways?

    • cberg

      Agree that development is the goal, though doing so while also winning would be nice.

      Not sure if guys are regressing or not. From afar and examining points charts that may be the case, but if overall consistency and 200ft play is the goal, how would we know from here?

    • KiLLKiND

      Seriously, this team is moving backwards, all this supposed talent underachieving. We were led to believe this club was so strong In talent and skill! Two or three players having problems I can understand but not the whole club. Maybe Ryan Huska needs to be moved on if the team is not responding.
      The parent club can ill afford to have nothing to fall back on. Other clubs move players all the time from the minors up to the show.

      Tre must get off his thumbs and do something, both clubs Stocton and the Flames continue to struggle every day. Getting tired of his preaching patience. Really hard to make deals with other teams when your teams numbers are so bad!

    • KiLLKiND

      You are correct. I have previously suggested a long hard look at the coaching staff….BT has the accountability here as well as the duds he drafted in his initial draft….BT needs to hit a couple of home runs before/at the trade deadline and at the upcoming draft !

  • everton fc

    Good to see Poulin back. With Ortio up and down like a yo-yo, perhaps Poulin pushes him for playing time – gives him some competition. We’ll see how Ortio does, being pushed by a peer.

    Any indication on how Poulin looked in net?

  • PrairieStew

    It is a troubling trend, prospects that initally show promise and then stagnate. It would be nice if one or two of Arnold/Agostino/Klimchuk/Poirer were so lighting the AHL on fire that they’d be better options now than Stajan/Raymond/Bollig.

    Same on the back end Wotherspoon and Sieloff need to make massive impressions in the back half of this season to have a future with this org, while Kulak, Culkin and Kylington have more time, the bar isn’t set very high with Smid/Engelland as the 6/7.

    Ortio as well, we went in to the season hoping he’d make one of the veterans expendable, now he’s struggling to .900 in the AHL.

    How does Craig Conroy blow sunshines and rainbows on this overall performance ?

      • PrairieStew

        Might be.

        43-25-8 under Troy Ward the last year in Abbostford 35-33-8 last year in Adirondack for Huska – trending in the wrong direction again this year.

        Not sure what the effect of the goalie coach carousel has been, but definitely not a positive. Lastly, Burke let Rich Hesketh go as strength and conditioning coach after a long run with the Flames. Can we say that the org as a whole is fitter and avoid injuries more/less or the same ? You can’t convince me it is better.

      • piscera.infada

        It could also have something to do with the fact that the Heat are an extremely young and inexperienced team by AHL standards. The Heat only have four players with more than 3 years of pro experience in Stevenson, Johnson, and Bruce, Nakladal; with only Johnson and Nakaladal playing regularly–and this is also Nakladal’s first season in North America. They also have one player with three years of pro experience Drew Shore.

        Now, I look over the other teams in the Heat’s division, and many of those teams have at least double that many “veterans”, and they usually play a prominant role on those teams.

        I’m not saying this is the only issue, but Huska has had a considerably younger, and less experienced team than Troy Ward did in any of his three seasons in as head coach of the heat.

  • KiLLKiND

    I think Grant should be getting NHL ice time soon, and I think part of the problem for our prospects is it probably seems impossible to make the Flames when Granlund still might get sent down once Hudler returns. If they don’t have hope of making the team and it seems unlikely that they will. We just need to unload players so our prospects can actually get a chance.

    Agostino is another who I would like to see given a call he is in the last year of his contract and we still don’t know what he is other than our top LW in the AHL.

    Here’s hoping they make the right decision to send Bollig down and then start making call ups that can actually play hockey.

    Somewhat related how has Turner Elson, and Hathaway looked this year? Haven’t heard anything about either of them in a while.

    • PrairieStew

      That’s the thing – can they actually play hockey at the NHL level ? A sub .500 record in the AHL is not a very good indicator that anyone on that group is even replacement level NHL calibre.

      Grant is nice story, but dude is closer to his 26th birthday than his 25th with all of 2 points in his 34 NHL games to date. He is not a long term prospect by any stretch. Is he better than Stajan at this point – doubtful. Neither is Arnold.

      The narrative that the marginal NHLer’s on the Flames are preventing the development of the prospects is only partly true. It never hurts a young player to be dominant at a lower level before getting their full time shot. As of now, I don’t think anyone is dominating in Stockton. If tomorrow Engelland, Raymond, Bollig and Stajan are gone, the Flames are likely cheaper, but probably not any better if the replacements are coming from Stockton.

      • KiLLKiND

        You can’t blame the top players on our team for not being able to drag around players that aren’t producing. Also a large part of that record is our goaltending at the AHL level has been pretty bad. Ortio has blown a more than his share of games and other than Gilles no goalie has looked good down there.

        I know Grant is “old” for a prospect but he is dominating at the AHL level he has 111 shots in only 22 games! thats 5 shots per game that’s insane. He might not be better than Matty Franchise but he is better than Colborne, Bollig, and on most days Raymond. He has earned a shot at the NHL and the only reason he got sent down when he did was to avoid placing him on waivers and which is likely why we called up Granlund instead.

        On the idea of waivers if Calgary suffered another forward injury and still waived Bollig to bring up Grant I think that would be a great idea. Grant is 6’3 and 202 we don’t have to worry about size over skill when we have him in the lineup. As a bonus someone might even claim Bollig so we don’t have to worry about him again.

        I’m not sure what to make of Arnold but I think he still needs this year to develop and hopefully next year will emerge as one of our better players on the farm.

        As far as our defensive prospects coming up we have Nakladal and Kulak and….. Kylington? I think our D prospects are a ways to be still and in the mean time we have Smid and Engelland with only Russel coming off the books this year. Hopefully Hickey and Andersson come to the AHL next year and then our D in Stockton and overall team performance will be much better. Along with Gilles coming back from injury next year I think Stockton will be pretty good.

        • PrairieStew

          Agree to disagree. You suggest that there are performers and passengers on the Heat but in terms of production I don’t see a big gap between the ‘top players’ and others on Stockton’s roster. The fact that Grant is the only one worthy of consideration of a call up is not very good, but perhaps even more damning is the fact that he wasn’t even on the Flames radar 6 or 8 months ago and he is 2 years older than the guy he effectively replaced (Max Reinhart), doesn’t bode well. You may think he is “found money” but history shows he’s got very little chance of contributing.

          I go back to the days when the only info we got on the prospects was when The Hockey News came in the mail with 10 day old stats. For years I followed the Flames prospects wondering when these AHL stat machines would ever crack the Flames roster. Bruce Eakin, Mark Lamb, Bobby Francis, Marc Bureau, Marty Murray, Hnat Dominichelli, Travis Brigley…..sadly no.

  • everton fc

    Emile Poirier had a lot of excitement around him last year. Had good AHL numbers. It is confusing and frustrating that he has tailed off when you figure he should be improving.

    Apart from Johnny every prospect seems to be underperforming. And a lot of vets are underperforming. We had so much developing talent but its not trending in the right direction. It really is rare to draft an impactful player. The Flames odds have not been favorable.

    At least we did land good ones in Johnny and TJ. Where would we be without them!

  • WildfireOne

    Not just 0rtio doing the yo-yo, seems like the entire team is really inconsistent. Yes, it’s definitely a youth effect, but it’s also definitely concerning when it’s still happening mid-season. Troy Ward seemed to have a steadier hand at this level. But what do I know?