This week the Stockton Heat hosted the Bakersfield Condors and the San Antonio Rampage. The Heat were coming off of a three-game road trip that saw wins in San Jose and San Diego (a 14-round shootout) and an 8-2 shellacking at the hands of the Condors.
WEDNESDAY, OCT. 31
On Halloween, Stockton came out flat. Their first shot on goal came with 4:30 left in the first. The play was tilted towards the Condors’ offensive zone for much of the period. Bakersfield scored with nine seconds left on a double minor to Buddy Robinson. The Condors outshot the Heat 13-4 in the period. Jon Gillies kept the score at 1-0 with some Grade A saves throughout the first frame.
The Heat looked like a completely different team in the second. Kerby Rychel tied the score just under three minutes in with a nice wrister. Less than 20 seconds later, Bakersfield regained the lead with a shot that beat Gillies high blocker side.
The home team did not fold though, as they dictated play for the remainder of the period. Spencer Foo looked to score a power play goal that was waved off by the ref and play continued. A few minutes later, Josh Healey took a penalty. With the stoppage of play, an official review showed the puck actually did cross the goal line and Foo was credited with his fourth goal of the season. The clock was backed up but the penalty of Healey remained. I learned something that night: you can get two minutes in the box for a play from the future. Somewhere Marty McFly is sitting in his DeLorean waiting to hit 88 MPH. On that penalty kill, the Heat took a one-goal lead with a Ryan Lomberg shorthanded goal. So I guess sometimes going back to the future is good.
In the third, Andrew Mangiapane took over the team lead in points with another power play goal to increase the lead to two. A late 6-on-5 goal by Bakersfield made the game tight, but the Heat held on for their first home win of the season. Credit Jon Gillies with this win, as he was on his game throughout the game.
SATURDAY, NOV. 3
On Saturday, the Heat hosted their annual “Stick it to Cancer” night. Over 6,500 fans were in the barn to raise funds for cancer research and see some exciting Heat hockey against the 2-8-0 San Antonio Rampage. Unfortunately, only one of these things came true.
The highlights… well, nothing good to report here. After a scoreless first period, San Antonio exploded with three goals in six minutes of the middle frame and took control of the game. The Rampage went 2-for-3 on the power play while Stockton did not capitalize on any of their five opportunities. The Rampage ended the night’s scoring with a shorthanded empty netter to make the final score 4-0.
At the chalk talk with Cail MacLean prior to Saturday’s game, I asked about Marcus Hogstrom and Tyler Parsons’ statuses. Hogstrom had surgery and won’t be available until mid-to-late December. As for Parsons, the coach said “Tyler has an upper body injury” (love hockey injury reports).
In talking with a few fans after chalk talk, it is speculated that he is in concussion protocol. That hit he took in San Jose a few weeks back was pretty hard, so I can believe the unsubstantiated claims why he is not playing. Nick Schneider was recalled from Kansas City to back up Gillies, while Ryan Faragher, who was signed on a PTO, was returned to the Idaho Steelheads of the ECHL.
Mrs. Finest asked MacLean about using five forwards on the power play at the beginning of the season (which Cail noted was a good observation). He indicated that while Oliver Kylington was on one unit, that there was not another defenseman who could quarterback the power play from the backend. It was somewhat of a risk sending five forwards out, but he felt comfortable doing it. Now that Matt Taormina is playing, the Heat have returned to using four forwards and one defensemen on both power play units. That was a very telling answer on the state of the current defensive group.
For Saturday’s Stick it to Cancer night, Andrew Mangiapane gave his letter to Adam Ollas-Mattsson in honor of Adam’s mother, who succumbed to cancer six years ago. After the game, during the game-worn jersey auction, teammates gathered money, purchased the jersey and gave it to AOM in honor of his mother.
On the ice, Ollas-Mattsson has stepped up his game from last year. I find myself saying “great play AOM” more and more during games. Defensively, he has been pretty sound. He is using his 6’5 frame to move people from the front of the net. Offensively, he is shooting more and playing deeper in the offensive zone. I wonder if he was tentative at the beginning of the year from his shoulder surgery, as he is playing more aggressively lately than in the past. He is looking more comfortable every game.
Matthew Phillips was one of the few players consistently heading towards the front of the net. MacLean bumped him up a line with Glenn Gawdin and Rychel during Saturday’s game and was on the second power play unit. Even though he has yet to register a point, he is getting closer to scoring as he pinged the post Saturday night.
As good as Jon Gillies was on Wednesday, he was not as sharp on Saturday. On Wednesday, he was either kicking shots to the side or swallowing the puck. On Saturday, on San Antonio’s first goal, he gave up a big rebound in front for an easy put back. He is getting better, but he still needs to work on rebound control.
This team still overpasses. I counted about a dozen times during Saturday’s game where they would dump the puck deeper in their own zone instead of getting the puck up ice, which has led to some very high danger scoring chances for the other team. About half the time the puck is misplayed with rink-wide, cross-ice passes that seldom find their mark. When on the rush, this team enters the offensive zone on the right side over 80% of the time, which is very predictable.
In general team news:
- Spencer Foo is playing with a full face mask and a black eye.
- Morgan Klimchuk has been scratched for the past few games. I spoke with him (as he was in the men’s room) and he confirmed “upper body injury” and that he would be back in the next few games. He wasn’t pissed that I asked.
- As reported on Sunday by Christian Tiberi, the Heat have waived Yasin Ehliz.
The Heat head to San Jose on Monday, Nov. 5 to take on the division-leading Barracuda. San Jose’s lone regulation loss came at the hands of Stockton on Oct. 21, the last game that Parsons played. The Heat return to Stockton Arena on Friday, Nov. 9 against the Reign before heading to Ontario to complete the home-and-home series on Sunday the 11th. Currently, the Heat are tied for fourth in the division with Ontario with nine points.