With a 2-1 victory over the Bakersfield Condors (Edmonton’s farm team) tonight, the Stockton Heat have wrapped up a playoff spot.
The evening’s first and finest goal was scored by Swedish golden boy Oliver Kylington, who did it on a sweet end-to-end effort.
Coast-to-Coast Swede! pic.twitter.com/6gBZyozuBh
— Stockton Heat (@AHLHeat) April 15, 2017
It was also his first game back from a minor lower body injury, just to make the narrative that much sweeter.
Bakersfield later scored to tie it up 1-1, but as the Heat only needed a single point to clinch a playoff spot and elimate them, the Condors pulled their goalie. Ryan Lomberg made them pay, and the Heat are headed to the playoffs.
“Rollercoaster season” is a cliche that’s been exhausted, but you wouldn’t be wrong to apply that label to these previous 68 games. The Heat came out firing, winning 13 of their first 20, but soon lost the handle on everything and fell into a month long struggle which saw them lose 11 of 12 games. After that low point, they’ve gone 15-5-1-1, including a five game winning streak.
The Heat are the final rung of the Flames organization to make the playoffs, joining the Flames (duh) and the Adirondack Thunder, who clinched three weeks ago. This is their first ever trip to the postseason in Stockton, the first time ever under head coach Ryan Huska, and the first time since 2013-14 for a Flames AHL affiliate. It will also be the first time since 2006-07 that the ECHL, AHL, and NHL Flames all made the playoffs (the ECHL affiliate back then was coached by current head coach Glen Gulutzan)
For just about every Heat player, this will be their first time in the postseason. The only Flames prospects with any AHL playoff experience are Brett Kulak, Emile Poirier and Garnet Hathaway. They all made their playoff debuts in 2014 for Abbotsford, appearing in four, three, and one games respectively. It’s going to be a very exciting time.
After one final game tomorrow against the Tuscon Roadrunners, Stockton will face the Pacific division winner San Jose Barracudas in the playoffs. Although there is an 18 point difference between the two in the standings, the Heat went a very good 5-5-2 against the powerhouse. I’m hoping for a Calgary-San Jose second round, just for a multi-league sports rivalry.