In order to make the Calder Cup playoffs, the Stockton Heat needed some help from other teams, as well as to win out. They actually got that help in the form of the Charlotte Checkers losing out, but unfortunately for them, couldn’t fulfil their end of the bargain.
The Heat were eliminated when the Bakersfield Condors – eliminated earlier – broke a 3-3 tie 14:17 into the third period of Stockton’s third last game. A shorthanded goal with just 1:11 remaining, followed by an empty netter, resulted in a 6-3 loss and Stockton officially out of the playoffs, albeit with two regular season games still to go.
It could have been a battle between the Heat and San Jose Barracuda for the final playoff spot; instead, the Heat were left to try to play spoiler as the Barracuda needed just one point to clinch a playoff spot.
The Heat’s season closed out with a 6-0 loss to San Jose.
The Heat finished with a .500 record: 32-32-4, and second last in the new Pacific Division. They scored 194 goals over the season – second worst in the Pacific, behind just the division-winning Ontario Reign – and had 224 goals go against them, third worst in the division. (Ontario, for the record, only surrendered 138.) They had a 16.7% power play, tied for 15th in the entire AHL; and an 80.2% penalty kill, fifth worst in the league.
Giving up so many goals may not be as great a concern for next season, as the Heat were left without Jon Gillies, who should have been their starting goaltender, most of the year. Scoring so few may not even be as much of a concern for next season, either: the Heat directed 2,456 shots on net, resulting in a mere 7.90 shooting percentage.
Kenny Agostino led the Heat in scoring with 23 goals and 57 points in 64 games, and finished tied for 12th in overall league scoring. Derek Grant, however, was second with 27 goals and 45 points in just 36 (though it should be noted Hunter Shinkaruk’s Stockton and Utica totals add up to 27 goals and 51 points in 62 games).
Keeping limited sample sizes in mind, just a couple of other players approached point per game status: Mason Raymond had 15 in 15, while Mark Jankowski had six in seven. Brett Pollock had one goal in three games played.
The team’s highest scoring defenceman was Aaron Johnson, with three goals and 18 points through 28 games; he isn’t signed with the Flames, though, only the Heat. The highest-scoring defenceman with an NHL contract was Brett Kulak, who had three goals and 17 points through 59 games.
Gillies was the team’s top goaltender for the seven games he played; he finished with a .920 save percentage. Kevin Poulin was the next best with a .909 save percentage through 29 games; Joni Ortio followed up with a .893 save percentage through 20. Nick Schneider, 18, closed out his year with the Heat after his Medicine Hat Tigers were eliminated; over eight games, he had a .885 save percentage.
The overall picture this seems to paint? The Heat maybe deserved to score more goals this season, and they may have had a better fate had Gillies been healthy throughout the year. These are hypotheticals, though; there’s no way to know for sure. Either way, hopefully they’ll be better next season.
Who’s still playing?
Mason McDonald’s Charlottetown Islanders were eliminated in the second round of the QMJHL playoffs with a 4-2 series loss to the Shawinigan Cataractes. He finished with a .877 save percentage in that series, and a .900% through the post-season.
With McDonald and the Heat both out, that leaves just two players associated with the Flames organization still playing: Andrew Mangiapane and Rasmus Andersson for the Barrie Colts, whose third round playoff series against the Niagara Ice Dogs starts on Thursday, April 21.
You could theoretically count Sparta Praha’s Daniel Pribyl as well, though he is presently injured and therefore not actually playing. He also can’t officially join the Flames until the Czech Extraliga’s season is over, so technically, he can’t count as one of the Flames still playing at all.
It’s just the two Colts, who will hopefully keep going.