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Stockton Heat beat Ontario Reign in OT, lose to San Jose Barracuda

The Stockton Heat came into the second weekend of play looking for their first victory of the season (0-1-1-0). The weekend consisted of a road game against Ontario for the Reign’s home opener and then the bus ride back to Stockton to face San Jose.

FRIDAY 10/12 – ONTARIO

On Friday, the Heat were in Ontario to face their home opener foe, the Reign. Listening to the game via the Heat app, Stockton struck first with a power play goal from Curtis Lazar. Thirty seconds later Oliver Kylington took a hooking penalty which led to Ontario tying things up. Ontario added two more goals to take a 3-1 lead before Kylington made up for his mistake when he got one past the Reign’s netminder to bring the Heat within a goal at the end of the first period.

No goals were scored in the middle frame. Midway through the third period, Ontario took a 4-2 lead. Things were looking bleak, but Kylington fought back and beat the goalie top shelf to pull back within one. The defenseman was not finished, as he blasted a shot from the blue line that Tyler Graovac tipped on its way to the back of the net to knot the score at four.

Like six days prior but in opposite fashion, the Heat fought back to take the game to overtime, where Graovac took the puck deep in his own zone, skated past the defenders, and buried a wrister 46 seconds into the extra period for the first win of the season.

Post-game quotes.

SATURDAY 10/13 – SAN JOSE

After spending the night in Ontario, Stockton took the six-hour bus ride up Highway 99 to face the hated San Jose Barracuda.

Line combos:

Klimchuk Graovac Foo
Mangiapane Lazar Robinson
Rychel McMurtry Pollock
Lomberg Gawdin Phillips
Kylington Ollas-Mattsson
O’Brien Austin
Healey Watson
Parsons

Tyler Parsons got the nod in net, as Jon Gillies notched his first victory of the season the day before. The game got off to a spirited start with some good hits and guys finishing their checks but not many shots on net from either team. San Jose struck twice 40 seconds apart late in the first to take a two-goal lead to the locker room.

The Barracuda struck midway through the second on another blocker side goal. The Heat countered when Graovac found a wide-open Lazar for an easy tap-in on a two-man advantage power play. The Heat were still down by two heading to the third.

The Heat started to press in the third. It looked like the wind was sucked out of their sails when a defensive breakdown led to a partial breakaway and a 4-1 lead just a minute into the period. The Heat continued to battle though and were finally rewarded with a dirty goal by Kerby Rychel. They drew to within one when Rychel struck again with a goal by the side of the net (have I ever mentioned that good things happen when you crash the net??).

The Barracuda pushed their lead back to two with a power play goal. A minute later, Rychel earned his hattie with a greeeeasy goal in front on the power play to bring the good guys back to within a goal. I left Mrs. Finest hanging for the high-five celebration within our section while I “ran” four sections to throw my hat. Sad to say that mine was the first lid to find the ice. After my initial toss, maybe about a dozen more caps found the playing surface.

The Heat kept pressing and found themselves with a power play with 1:41 left. After a timeout, Cail MacLean decided to go for broke and pulled the goalie for a six-on-four power play. To my knowledge, in Heat history, pulling the goalie has only resulted in goals against. For all of the games we have attended, Stockton has never scored with the goalie pulled. Saturday was no exception. After trying to look for the perfect shot, a turnover led to an empty net shorthanded goal and sent the home team to another loss.

On a night when the Heat were buzzing in front of the net, scored three times in the third, and had San Jose on their heels, it was a time to just fire pucks towards the net and see what could happen. Rychel and Spencer Foo both were in front looking for a rebound. I know hindsight is 20/20, but with the momentum that the Heat had, I would have started that power play with Parsons still in net and only pulled him with a minute left.

Post-game quotes.

WEEKEND AFTERTHOUGHTS AND TAKEAWAYS

Amazingly, Friday night was the first multi-goal game in Kylington’s pro career.

Rychel becomes the fifth Heat player with a hat trick, joining Mark Jankowski, Hunter Shinkaruk, Foo, and Brett Pollock.

Defense. What was a strength last year is a huge liability so far this year. I do not know why Matt Taormina nor Marcus Hogstrom have not dressed yet. I heard that Rinat Valiev is having visa issues that is keeping him from joining the team. Hopefully they can come in and take charge of this group. Kylington and Adam Ollas-Mattsson are currently top pair. These two would be better served as middle pair.

Kylington should be better defensively, especially since he is entering his fourth professional year. Offensively, he is fine; maybe the organization should “Brent Burns” him and move him to forward. AOM is steady, but not a top line guy. Andrew O’Brien and Brady Austin as middle pair are okay. Nothing fancy. Probably a good bottom pair. Josh Healey and Cliff Watson should be in the ECHL.

If you take away Friday’s three-point outburst by Kylington, this group has a total of two points (O’Brien goal and Watson assist). The defensive unit is a combined minus six after Saturday’s game. What I would give to have Tyler Wotherspoon, Cody Goloubef, Brett Kulak, or even Dalton Prout down here to solidify this group.

Here are a few pictures that Mrs. Finest took showing some of the traffic Parsons faced in the second period.

Goaltending is still a major concern. Through the first four games, Gillies has a .831 SV% (77 shots / 64 saves) and a 5.06 GAA while Parsons is sporting a disappointing .767 SV% (43/33) and 6.91 GAA. As mentioned above, the defense needs to tighten up and not allow as many odd-man rushes. But these two need to stop more shots. Gillies still has a top-side hole (both glove and stick) that he needs to close and Parsons needs to settle down a bit. He looks jumpy to me.

With both Gillies and Parsons, I wonder if the problem is with them or the system. Both of these goalies came out of the amateur ranks with success and high marks, but they have both floundered so far as professionals. Is that because the system being played limits their natural ability, or is it because their personal styles do not fit the scheme? I do not know the answer to that, but it needs to be addressed.

These show Parsons and his positioning.

Curtis Lazar looks happy and his play reflects that. He has scored two goals and has an assist in three games. He is getting top line minutes and plays on both power plays and penalty kills. He has been teamed with Andrew Mangiapane and they have built some chemistry. Pollock has been their primary right wing, but Buddy Robinson and Rychel have also spent time there. I think they play better with Rychel, as he brings some grit to that line.

Matthew Phillips is a little snake bitten. Saturday night he had a partial breakaway that hit the crossbar. He had four official SOG over the weekend, but he fired more than that. I feel like once he breaks the seal, he won’t look back. He sat for the home opener, but since he was inserted back into the lineup, continues to drive the net looking for that initial tally.

MacLean seems to continue to tinker with lines. I also noticed last night that he shortened his bench. In the third, I did not see much of Pollock, Glenn Gawdin, or Mike McMurtry. He also continued the five-forward power play unit. This week saw the top PP unit as Lazar, Rychel, and Pollock down low with Foo and Mangiapane on the point. That unit was on every power play. I wonder if this is because MacLean doesn’t have a true defensive QB, like Rasmus Andersson last year, on the backend or if he is just trying to generate more shots. Either way I like it.

It is early, but so far I have been disappointed with Robinson. He has two assists through four games. For a guy that had 53 points last year in Manitoba and 31 points between Binghamton and San Jose the year before, he has not been memorable. Maybe a phone call from Johnny Gaudreau will get him started.

The Heat (1-2-1-0) now have the week to get ready for a home-and-home series with these same Barracuda next weekend. Saturday they are home before taking the 90-minute bus ride for a Sunday afternoon tilt at the Tank.

If you are coming to town and need tickets, or have questions that you don’t want to post in the comments, you can contact me at stocktonfinestfn@gmail.com. I do not do social media.



    • Hockeysense9393

      You play with what your given. I know there is no excuse, but give it a few games for defence to actually show up. Kylington needed help…now he has some. I hate to say it….but I hope Schneider pushes his way up? Nothing personal…but let’s see some goaltending here!

      • Baalzamon

        I’m not saying anything about MacLean or drawing any conclusions. I’m pointing out that people were never anywhere near this forgiving when it came to Huska.

    • Stockton's Finest

      Don’t read too much into those line set ups. According to the Heat, they “don’t number their lines”. I listed them as they hit the ice.

      Plus MacLean has been shuffling lines throughout the game. So the lines I listed were not the same at the end of the 1st period. Too many changes to keep track of.

  • everton fc

    I know it’s still “too early to tell”, but we’d be most wise to look at a goalie to help in Stockton, and perhaps up here, if Smith or Rittich go down. Doesn’t seem Gillies, and particularly Parsons, are anywhere near “close”…

  • Justthateasy

    Well, if that’s the case that Gillies is full of holes and Parsons has technique problems, let’s get on with it.
    Brossoit seems to have been scouted and picked off by the Jets. Whoever’s job this is for the Flames is either dropping the ball or not getting on with it. This should be done double duty and assign as many people as you need to see who’s in the NHL’s systems and find somebody that can succeed. There has to be 200 goalies out there but only 30 can play at any one time. Sure it’s a crapshoot but look hard and be smart.

    • Jumping Jack Flash

      Broissoit looked good yesterday but that is only one game. Helybuck plays a really quiet game and I noticed that in Brossoit’s game as well…but Carolina also shot a lot pucks right at him.

  • Just.Visiting

    Thanks for your continued efforts to offer insights on the Heat.

    It’s great to see Lazar getting a lot of ice time and responding well to the challenge. I thought it was a big mistake to have kept him up last year, even if it would have meant exposing him to waivers to send him down. This is definitely the right move for his development.

    I agree with you that there may come a point at which the Flames need to look at a position change for Kylington.

  • buts

    As far as goaltending goes it takes a long time for goalies to read plays and shooters at the pro level. Some never get it and a few do. Patience patience patience. Great to see Schneider in the ECHL have a good start. Right now if a guy here gets hurt we are in big trouble. BT has to be looking no doubt.

  • Derzie

    There is a mountain of evidence to suggest that we have a poor goaltending department at all levels of the Flames organization. Scouts. Coaches. Players. Time to clean it up and bring in an established/accomplished leader to the organization.

  • Jumping Jack Flash

    Great insight and analysis. I am glad you mentioned Phillips because he is the one I am most concerned about. When he sat for the home opener I was worried. Who does he play with and does he see any PP time….it looks like it needs some help. Parsons seems to be decent at 5v5 but let’s a few PP and SH goals in this small sample size.

    I might be one of the few people that would like to see Mangi back up and Dube down getting top line minutes…I have not noticed him in the last couple games…could be the injury.

    Do you feel the coaches will continue to pulse the goalies? It looks like KC has a better team this year and giving up less goals under Schneider and McDonald. I wonder if sending Parsons down so Gillies can play more. Games is the way to go.

  • SeanCharles

    The defense needs some help..

    Once everyone is healthy it wouldn’t be far fetched to assume the only guy who dressed the first few games that will end up in the regular top 4 is Kylington.

    AOM and Healey are probably pretty good bottom pairing defenders, while the rest of the group is likely in and out of the lineup.

    Everyone ripping on the goalies and Kylington need to realize this. Kylington is the only guy that is not a bottom pairing AHL or ECHL talent. The only guy that I might be underselling is AOM as the head coach had high praise for his and Kylington at the start of the year.

    However the point stands that most of these guys are below average at the AHL level.

    Kylington-Valiev
    Hogstrom-Taormina
    Healey-AOM

    *It doesn’t really help that all these guys are LH shots, even if they are the best 6.

  • Stu Gotz

    SF…John Gillies will soon be 25. It appears he is still having major technical issue high glove side etc. How much rope does he have left with the Flames in your opinion?

    • Stockton's Finest

      Yes. Welcome to the AHL. Average attendance at most barns runs around 5,500. Stockton Arena seats just over 9,300 for hockey. We will get 2 to 3 “sellouts” a year but most nights attendance runs between 3,500 and 5,000.