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Stockton Heat take two from San Diego Gulls in weekend series

This weekend, Stockton hosted the San Diego Gulls for a two-game tilt. Coming off a 5-2 loss on Wednesday to San Jose where the top line produced all points, the Heat were looking to get back on track in the friendly, albeit desolate, Stockton Arena, as a total of 4,400 people attended between the two games.

Going into Friday’s game, the top line accounted for 20 of the 37 total points, and 10 of the 14 goals for the season.

This was the scene for Friday’s game:

Mangiapane Jankowski Hathaway
Klimchuk Hrivik Foo
Shinkaruk Lomberg Gazdic
Cramarossa Pelley Poirier
Wotherspoon Andersson
Kylington Goloubef
Ollas-Mattsson Yevenko
Gillies

The Heat won 4-2, with all of their goals coming on special teams. Jon Gillies made 29 saves for the win.

Spencer Foo got the night started on the power play with his first professional goal of his career. Parked in front of the net, he buried a rebound from Hunter Shinkaruk. Later in the first, Joseph Cramarossa picked off a pass and raced down the ice, beating San Diego goalie Boyle for a short-handed snipe.

Mark Jankowski got in the act with a power play goal in the second as he followed up his own rebound, with credit going to Tyler Wotherspoon and Andrew Mangiapane for the assists. It was Jankowski’s league-leading third game-winning goal.

Welcome back, Morgan Klimchuk! I know it was an empty netter (from Rasmus Andersson and Foo), but a goal is a goal. He played a good third period. Early in the game, Mrs. Finest actually asked if Klimchuk was a scratch on Friday, as he blended in with the ice.

On Friday, the best players for me were Wotherspoon, Adam Ollas-Mattsson, Foo, Shinkaruk, and Marek Hrivik.

Wotherspoon played with control. He cleared pucks from the zone, jumped into plays, and moved players away from Gillies. He helped control the zone. If he had played this way during camp, I would be reporting on Matt Bartkowski right now instead.

Ollas-Mattsson acted as the stay-at-home D man, finishing his checks and moving the puck better. This was the best game I have seen him play in person. He was paired with Oleg Yevenko, who was seeing his first action of the season.

Foo is getting more active and involved in the play. You could tell getting that goal early really took the weight off his shoulders. He played fast, but was also getting in front of the net looking for rebounds or tips.

Shinkaruk is looking more mature than last year. He still needs a full year down here, but he should be pushing for a fourth line LW spot next year.

Lastly, Hrivik is good, and counted on to play both the power play and penalty kill. You can tell he’s strong and fast. Like Jankowski, he has good vision of the ice. He will fill in as the top line center whenever the Flames recall Jankowski (#freejanko).

And Saturday’s:

Mangiapane Jankowski Hathaway
Klimchuk Hrivik Foo
Shinkaruk Lomberg Gazdic
Cramarossa Pelley Poirier
Wotherspoon Andersson
Kylington Goloubef
Robak Healey
Gillies

There was a coach’s Chalk Talk for season ticket holders before Saturday’s game. Ryan Huska and Brandon Kisker took questions from the audience, and Mrs. Finest and I were prepared. We asked four of the six questions from the crowd.

SF: Why the move to the fourth line for Emile Poirier?

Huska: We really do not number our lines. Except maybe the Jankowski line.

Translation: I do not want to answer that one.

Mrs. SF: Why the decision to move Ryan Lomberg to center?

Huska: By playing center it helps to improve his defense, training, and abilities. He gets different looks at center than wing. He considers Lomberg a combo center/winger. He likes his speed, which makes a good winger, but he wants controlled speed while playing center.

Translation: We need help up the middle.

SF: You are playing five left wingers but only three right wingers. Is that by design?

Huska: Both Poirier and Cramarossa can play both sides, so it is not as much of an issue as perceived. Most Canadian kids start out shooting left handed, so it is not that big of a deal.

Translation: We are trying to groom another RW.

Mrs. SF: Is Austin Carroll playing tonight?

Huska: Austin is practicing with the team and remains in shape for when he is called on. Right now the forwards are playing well and he doesn’t want to upset the lineup.

Translation: Don’t ask me about Austin Carroll.

  • Side note: there has to be something more to this, but nobody is saying anything.

As for the game itself, it kicked off with Klimchuk scoring his second goal in as many games with a sweet feed from Hrivik. Garnet Hathaway got on the board with an apple from Mangiapane, too.

No Jankowski? Just wait. The score was 2-2 after the first period.

Cody Goloubuf scored his first goal of the season in the second frame with a blast from the point, set up by Oliver Kylington and Mangiapane (the assist was originally awarded to Jankowski, but a scoring change has given it to his winger, snapping Jankowski’s point streak).

Wotherspoon, too, got on the goal train with a bomb from the blue line. After two, the score was 4-3.

Gillies was looking pretty good for back-to-back games, something I do not like, as he always seems tired the day after a game. The defense helped out by limiting the Gulls to only six shots, while the offense put 22 on their goaltender.

The game ended with another couple of tallies in the third. Hrivik snapped a wrister past the goalie for his opening goal of the season, and Hathaway added an empty netter to tie Jankowski for the team lead in goals with five.

Every player in Saturday’s game had at least one shot on goal.

My takeaways from this weekend:

Hathaway needs to control his temper. He took an “Abuse of Official” penalty on Friday when he flipped the puck down the ice after being called for slashing. You knew the refs had a short fuse and by doing that, he put his team at a disadvantage.

Jankowski is getting more chippy than he was last year. He is protecting himself more, getting in the middle of scrums at the end of plays and confronting those who are trying to mess with him. He is pushing it to the limit without crossing the line.

Stockton has eight solid defensemen. The top pairing of Wotherspoon and Andersson mesh well together. They know each other’s game and work in unison to keep the defensive end clear. They move pucks well and will step into the play when they see the opportunity.

Kylington and Goloubef balance each other. Goloubef covers for Kylington when he pinches the zone, while Kylington has the speed to get back when he makes that ill-advised pass. Goloubef has a lot of experience, both in the AHL and NHL, which he is clearly passing on to Kylington and others.

It appears that Huska is putting Colby Robak and Josh Healey together to get them to gel as a pair. They played well Saturday. Healey had some good hits, and Robak can move the puck. This will be a bottom pairing throughout the year.

Finally, Ollas-Mattsson and Yevenko were paired together on Friday. Ollas-Mattsson is flexible and can be teamed with any of the bottom four to make a good pairing, while Yevenko – all 6’7 of him – needs some work. He seemed a little slow but not as slow as the bearded stork, aka Hunter Smith. With some chemistry, these two could be a good shutdown pair.

Quick hits:

  • This just in: Mangiapane is fast. He has jumped Klimchuk as the best LW prospect for the Flames.
  • The move to center has made Lomberg a better all-around player.
  • Cramarossa is a solid bottom six winger. He plays well on the PK and brings an overall grittiness to the team.
  • Shinkaruk and Poirier are finding their way in the bottom six, and they are not letting that hamper their progress.
  • And Carroll is the only Heat player yet to don a sweater this year.

So, after playing five of their first six games at home, the Heat take to the road with a Wednesday clash in San Diego (again) and a weekend clash in Bakersfield. I would have gone down to see the Saturday game, but I will be taking in the Golden Knights game in Vegas on Friday instead.

  • freethe flames

    Thanks for your input. I always enjoy your view on the Heat. How did Gilles play on Saturday? It’s funny that AOM played Friday but not Saturday. Who do you think has shown more so far this seaso; Healy or AOM? Have fun in Vegas.

    • Stockton's Finest

      Hey Free! I thought Gillies looked ok. He was better on Friday. Mrs. Finest used the term “competent”. He wasn’t tested as much, as the defense played well in front of him.
      As for comparing AOM and Healey, that is tough, as I have seen Healey 3 times and AOM only once. Ollas-Mattsson showed well on Friday. I saw him a few times late last year and he looked a little overwhelmed. He looked comfortable on Friday. Until last night I had not noticed Healey. That is both good and bad. He had a few good checks that I noticed yesterday. Even Mrs. Finest said “Wow” after one of his hits. I wouldn’t mind seeing them on the same pairing at some point soon. It may be worth a look. It seems like Huska is searching for a good 3rd pair.

  • Baalzamon

    This just in: Mangiapane is fast. He has jumped Klimchuk as the best LW prospect for the Flames.

    I’m pretty sure that happened a while ago. Klimchuk’s career high in junior–in the WHL–was 80 points, whereas Mangiapane twice crested 100 points in the OHL. And then of course Klimchuk scored 9 points in his first AHL season, while Mangiapane had 41 in his.

    I mean, I like Klimchuk as much as the next guy, but I think it’s been quite clear–for a while now–that Mangiapane is the better prospect.

      • Baalzamon

        I still don’t understand how he was available in the 6th round. Like picture this: Suppose you take a fast, skilled forward in the first round, let’s say 20th overall. Now imagine that player goes on to score consecutive 100 point seasons in the following two years, followed by a 40+ point season in the AHL. You’re pretty happy, right?

        Now imagine that player wasn’t a first rounder. What if he was a plucky, slightly-undersized goalscorer showing loads of potential but with a relatively modest 50+ point season in the OHL. You take a chance on him, let’s say in the fourth round. Then two 100 point seasons and the 40 point pro debut. You’re ecstatic, no?

        Now imagine that that player not only somehow slipped through the 2014 draft entirely, but falls into your lap in the 6th round the following year.

        How is this guy not the talk of the league?

          • Baalzamon

            What’s weird is that Mangiapane out-scored Labanc in 2014. Mangiapane had 51 points, Labanc had 35. And yet… Labanc gets drafted. Mangiapane doesn’t.

        • OYYC

          One, he’s supposedly undersized. That’s a really generous 5’10 he’s listed at, have to be honest.
          Two, overall GM bias? Mangiapane was passed over in the draft once, so he drops off the radar.

          But I agree with you, this one is a puzzle. It wasn’t as if he was playing overseas in his teens. But I’m sure glad the Flames have him.

    • Puckhead

      Comparing Mangiapane to Klimchuk is like comparing apples to oranges – they have different strengths but each possesses important skill sets that the Flames need.

      • The Doctor

        Plus never underestimate the tendency of NHL scouts to love size. Hunter Smith is Exhibit A. He goes in the second round, Mangiapane in the sixth. It made more sense in the Golden Age of the Goon decades ago, makes less sense now.

  • T&A4Flames

    Awesome stuff Finest. I love these prospect/Stockton reports.
    Really curious about he Carrol banishment so far. He must be pissed, it’s his final year to impress otherwise I doubt he gets another contract, at least not from the Flames.
    And I really really wish they would try Poirier back with some skilled players like Janko and Mangi. He has more skill than Hathaway and could still become that top 6 scoring RW in the big league.

  • Crazy Flames

    In hindsight the Flames should have put Bennett in the Ahl last year to help develop him as a pro center.

    They need to stop trying to force it at the NHL level. Time to move him to the wing and bring up Janko, demote Glass or Stajan.