The Heat week that was: All or nothing

The Heat went 2-1 this past week, scoring 13 goals on the way and allowing nine against. That’s pretty good!

Kevin Poulin played the first two, while Joni Ortio got a crack in the second of a back-to-back. Meanwhile, Derek Grant led the way offensively with two goals and four assists through the week, but Emile Poirier (one goal, four assists) was close behind him. Freddie Hamilton had a three-point game, and Turner Elson picked up three points over the week, as well as 13 shots on net.

Stockton is still at the bottom of the Pacific Division with a .470 points percentage, but they’re no longer the only team below .500, as the San Antonio Rampage have now joined them in that prestigious honour. The Rampage only have two more wins than the Heat with seven more games played, so sixth place could be in sight! It’s the little things. Also, it is only January.

January 13: Heat 6, Rampage 2

Thirty-three shots on net apiece, but it was Kevin Poulin out-duelling Spencer Martin as the Heat really laid it on the Rampage. With two goals scored in the first period by Derek Grant and Morgan Klimchuk, two goals in the second by Freddie Hamilton and Kenny Agostino, and then two more in the third by Aaron Johnson and, again, Hamilton, the Heat were consistently offensive throughout the game as they gradually kept the Rampage out of it.

Things could have gone south. San Antonio got on the board after the Heat made it 2-0 with a shorthanded goal. The Rampage only had six shots on net all period, but something like that can be rather demoralizing.

The Heat, however, managed to keep it a 2-1 game going into the second, when they scored a power play goal to restore their two-goal lead. San Antonio didn’t score again until after Stockton’s fourth goal, and so, the third period started off with a 4-2 lead for the Heat – and a lead they seemed to fold to protect, as they only had four shots on net all period (though two did go in, including another power play goal).

Hamilton led the way not just with his two goals, but with an assist and seven shots on net as well; Turner Elson followed him up with six shots of his own. Elson had two assists, as did Emile Poirier. Agostino and Grant both had a goal and an assist apiece to round out the five multi-point scorers for the Heat as they struck frequently enough to dispatch the Rampage in their one and only home game of the week.

January 16: IceHogs 3, Heat 0

Six goals is a lot; zero, unfortunately, is not. Travelling to Rockford, the Heat were shut out by the IceHogs in a game in which emotion evidently rang high, if Hunter Smith’s two fights (and game misconduct for said fights) were anything to go by.

Poulin was back in net, but surrendered two goals on the IceHogs’ 28 shots (the third goal was a last minute empty netter); however, he kept it a close game. Rockford scored midway through the first period, but only made it 2-0 with just over two minutes left in regulation.

The Heat, for their part, were never out of it. They mustered 23 shots on net: Agostino had four and Elson three for their most frequent shooters. The only really big number that stands out is Smith’s 22 penalty minutes: 10 for two fights, 10 for a game misconduct due to picking up three majors and two fights, and two for slashing.

January 17: Heat 7, Wild 4

Memories have to be short, particularly when you’re in the midst of a road trip and have back-to-back away games. The Heat will return to Stockton next week, but they made sure to make up for their lack of offence the night before, and even best their goals at home from just a few days earlier.

With 34 shots on net, the Heat had seven different goal scorers: Brett Kulak (power play), Dustin Stevenson, Agostino, Grant, Austin Carroll, Poirier, and finally, Elson with the empty netter. Grant led the way in scoring with three assists in addition to his goal, but Poirier was right behind him with two assists of his own, as the pair combined for seven points.

Elson and Agostino led the shot counts for the Heat with four apiece, while Stevenson, Carroll, Smith, and Jakub Nakladal all had three each.

Meanwhile, in net, it was a familiar face on both ends: while Joni Ortio stopped 24 of 28 shots thrown his way, Leland Irving was the unlucky soul who had six scored on him, stopping just 27 of 33. Irving is actually posting a .917 save percentage in the AHL this year (his first year back in North America after two seasons spent in Europe), which is better than Ortio’s overall numbers thus far.

Poulin, however, has a .918 save percentage through seven games with the Heat this season. He’ll be 26 by this season’s end. Considering the Flames’ uncertainty in net, could he be a possibility, even as a stop gap option? Now that he’s healthy, we should be seeing more of him – and what he can offer.

  • everton fc

    Good to see that Poirier is picking it up. People are quick to write him off and I have seen him in many trade proposals, however I think doing so would be a massive mistake. He is only 21, he put up great numbers in junior and had a fantastic rookie season in Adirondack last year. Although he has struggled this year, I think it would be extremely premature to trade him away. He possesses a great combination of speed, grit, peskiness and goal scoring ability.

    I strongly believe that the Flames need to be patient with him and allow him to develop, and in a couple years time he could potentially be a top 6 winger. At worst, he would hopefully still be able to fill a 3rd line scoring roll with some bite. Way to early to write him off IMO.

      • everton fc

        I think the organization is being patient with him, I think it’s us fans that are impatient. We need to recognize that he is being asked to develop into a top 6 (NHL) forward while not playing with any other top 6 prospects.(klImchuk may become one) That being said the way Grant is currently playing I wonder when he will get another look. Agostina also seems to have earned a look.

        • RealMcHockeyReturns

          If Flames trade away or lose to injury a guy like Stajan or Backlund (not necessarily recommending it), only then may Grant gets a chance (too bad given his energy and face off prowess) while another winger loss via trade or injury would allow Agostino or Poirier to be seen for a good trial in NHL. Would love 2-3 forwards on Flames to go away to accelerate the rebuild via NHL games for these prospects