Heat GameDay: Do or Die Against Bakersfield (8pm MT)

The National Hockey League’s Calgary Flames may be dead and buried for this season, but their American Hockey League affiliate in Stockton is in a battle for their playoff lives! Tonight the Stockton Heat leap into yet another do-or-die affair with one of their most bitter rivals, the Bakersfield Condors.

The puck drops just after 8 p.m. MT on AHL Live and streaming audio on the Heat’s site!

THE HEAT

Stockton has been a team in flux over the past few weeks, losing a few key players to injuries and call-ups while getting a few new bodies in from the amateur circuit at the same time. But now that the NHL club is done for the year the Heat have Drew Shore and Hunter Shinkaruk back, joining fellow returnees Oliver Kylington, Patrick Sieloff and Turner Elson and recent additions Mark Jankowski, Keegan Kanzig, Brett Pollock and Nick Schneider. Rather than a thread-bare club held together by ECHL call-ups and AHL lifers, they have some interesting options available to them.

The 18-year-old Schneider (not to be confused with 19-Year-Old Sam Bennett) has been pressed into service with injuries to Kevin Poulin and Kent Simpson, and he’s actually been pretty damn good so far. He’s 3-3-0 with a 3.37 goals against average and .893 save percentage. Those numbers, by the way, are virtually identical to Joni Ortio’s in the AHL this season.

The Heat’s offensive leaders include Kenny Agostino (21 goals, 51 points), Shinkaruk (26 goals, 49 points) and Freddie Hamilton (17 goals, 41 points).

THE CONDORS

The Baby Oilers are officially eliminated from the playoffs and are playing out the string. They just got Laurent Brossoit, Darnell Nurse, Griffin Reinhart and Jordan Oesterle back from Edmonton, so their ranks are bolstered a bit.

Bakersfield doesn’t have a lot of high-impact offensive players: the leading scorers include Matthew Ford (26 goals, 47 points), Brad Hunt (12 goals, 39 points) and Ryan Hamilton (20 goals, 33 points). But if Brossoit starts, they may be a tough challenge for the Heat; he’s got an impressive .919 save percentage in the AHL this season.

THE NUMBERS

Stockton Bakersfield
Wins 31 28
Power Play 16.6% 17.0%
Penalty Kill 79.8% 81.6%

WHEN LAST WE MET

This is the 12th and final meeting between these California foes this season. The Heat are 5-6-0 through the first 11 games. Their last match-up was a 6-5 overtime victory for the Heat in Bakersfield back on March 19. Stockton blew a third period lead, but Hunter Shinkaruk scored a minute into overtime to get them the win.

THE RACE

Team Ranking GP Pts Pts% Max
Pts%
Min
Pts%
Charlotte 5th / Central 74 80 .541 .552 .526
San Jose 4th / Pacific 66 71 .538 .551 .522
Stockton 5th / Pacific 65 66 .508 .529 .485

The Heat are in must-win mode as they have to pass both San Jose and Charlotte in points percentage to make the playoffs.

Charlotte (36-30-3-5) plays Thursday and Friday against Lake Erie, who are excellent (40-22-6-5). San Jose (30-25-8-3) plays Stockton on Saturday and Sunday. The Heat are masters of their own destiny here, but they still need Charlotte to lose out to have a shot.

SUM IT UP

It’s a must-win game for the Heat and potentially the most important, playoff-like atmosphere a Flames-related pro team will play in this season.

  • OKG

    Hope Mark “Barely a #1C as a senior for his college team” Jankowski drops a three-pointer tonight on the Baby Oilers to get himself above PPG! Go Baby Flames!

    • Johnny Goooooooaldreau

      While he may want to pick on one of the non-fighters, there is always Hunter Smith (who Nurse beat in the pre-season) or of course maybe the Heat dress Kanzig?

      • Baalzamon

        I watched the fight again. It’s more of a draw, actually.

        Smith was cut… by his own visor. He also landed a bunch of hooks to the back of Nurse’s head. I’m willing to believe Nurse’s head was ringing worse than Hunter’s after that fight finished.

  • McRib

    So Mark Jankowski ends up with 5 Points in 6 GP (in crucial) AHL playoff stretch run games (actually deserved a couple more points in games I watched). Late bloomers like him (he was 5’8″ at 16 years old) take time they are the 2-5% you throw the NHLE comparables out the window, been saying this all along.

    The kid still could gain another 10 pounds of muscle and adult strength most importantly, prior to next season (see Leon Draisitl this season, much better skater this year, yet everyone told me last summer he was” fully mature”, after late growth spurts coordination is still coming around). Providence was also an extremely defensive team under Nate Leaman (Jankowski was only player to crack 40 points in his four years, another one of those years they didn’t even have anyone crack 30 points, another year they only had one).

    The only thing about the Mark Jankowski pick I never liked was we shouldn’t have taken a long term prospect when Feaster & Co. drafted him, as our prospect cupboard was bone dry back then. But other than that he had 3-4 other teams who were lining up to draft him in the first round after us that year (despite a NHL Central Scouting ranking) and every “scout” I have talked to since, who watched him regularly in the Hocky East still said the same thing every year “middle six centre worse case, could be a steal”. Glad I never listened to Mr. Lambert. If Jankowski was playing for a offensive program like Boston College under Jerry York he would have had 50 points in his sleep this year, not to mention better numbers across the board the last three years previously.

    • OKG

      Careful with small late season sample sizes to draw any conclusions based on stats. I made that mistake last year with Kenney Morrison and his six points in ten games where he passed the eye test too. Well it turned out that Morrison is actually not that good.

      I have confidence in Jankowski, just saying. BTW it’s looking like the “long term project” was a calculated move that factored in the fact that there was an inevitable rebuild on the horizon. Jankowski will be ready to take his rightful throne just as this team is on the verge of being a contender. Timing couldn’t be better!

    • OKG

      Hunter Shinkaruk-Mark Jankowski-Bryce Van Brabant

      Kenny Agostino-Freddie Hamilton-Garnet Hathaway

      Morgan Klimchuk-Turner Elson-Drew Shore

      Blair Riley(AHL vet) -Bill Arnold-Austin Caroll