Photo Credit: Mrs. Finest

Parsons sets record in Heat win

The Heat returned to the Stockton Arena after a disappointing 0-2-1 road trip that saw Jon Gillies in net for all three. The defense (or what passes as defense) didn’t do him any favors, but still he needed to be better than 0.889 SV% and 3.73 GAA for those three games. At least those numbers were better than his season numbers.

The Heat cannot continue to give up an average of 33 SOG and expect to win. While defenseman Marcus Hogstrom made his Heat debut on the trip, playing two games with no points and a -3, he did not suit up on Saturday. Lastly, the Heat signed Rob Hamilton to an AHL contract for the remainder of the year.

Saturday night was the annual Teddy Bear Toss with the Texas Stars, who became the latest victims of plush toy abuse.

Ready to fly!

Coach Cail MacLean sent this lineup out to dance with the Stars.

Rychel Lazar Foo
Quine Graovac Robinson
Dube Gawdin Phillips
Sabourin Lomberg Pollock
Valiev Ollas-Mattsson
Tansey Hamilton
Paliotta Nielsen

Texas came out fast and controlled play for the better part of the first period but could not beat Tyler Parsons, who was on his game. Finally, with just over five minutes left in the period, Alan Quine grabbed a loose puck in the slot, hesitated a half second to pick his spot, and wristed one top shelf glove side that sent Paddington flying!

Caution: Flying Bear (top left)
Clean Up Crew
This is a bear called Plush

With just under two minutes left, Matthew Phillips fired a perfect pass in front that Glenn Gawdin tipped in for a 2-0 lead after one period. Texas outshot Stockton 13-9.

Parsons kept up his netminding magic in the second period. During the first power play, he made at least four point-blank saves. The Stars finally broke through with a goal after a scrum in front. From my vantage point, not only was the puck kicked but there was goalie interference, but unlike the NHL, coaches cannot challenge those calls. That was the only shot out of 20 that got by Parsons. Yes, Texas fired 20 shots on net in the second period compared to five for the Heat. One would say they were the Shooting Stars.

While the Stars continued to press, Stockton cashed in on their limited opportunities. A faceoff win by Gawdin led to a one-timer by Dillon Dube that whistled by the netminder and Deep in the Heart of Texas’ net for a two-goal cushion. The Stars answered back quickly with a two-on-one break and a clean shot that beat Parsons to cut the lead to one, but that would be as close as they got as Parsons closed the moon roof and denied Texas the chance to see the net. Rinat Valiev ended the scoring with a trickling shot from the Heat zone that kissed the post as it “bearly” went into an empty net. Parsons ended the night with a well-deserved first star, setting a Heat record with 49 saves, as the Heat were outshot 51-22. Parsons gave the 6,600+ in attendance a clinic in goaltending.

He’s stuffed

Post-game quotes can be found here.


Parsons has now won his last three starts while Gillies has lost (regulation and overtime) his last seven starts. It is time to hand the reins to Parsons and let him develop. He gives the Heat the best chance to win. Sign Ryan Faragher for the remainder of the season (he was sent back to Idaho) or bring up Nick Schneider to back up Parsons. Look into signing Ben Halford, the goalie in Kansas City who has been taking starts from both Schneider and Mason McDonald. I know I am beating a dead horse but it is time to move on from Gillies.

The defense, in name only, needs to improve drastically and quickly. Allowing 51 shots on goal on Saturday is embarrassing. They have been outshot in six of the seven games in 2019. The defense needs to simplify their game plan and concentrate on clearing the zone at all costs.

On a team desperate for defense and all positions open for the taking, Andrew Nielsen looks slow, out of position, and is constantly on the bottom pair. He is a step behind when finishing checks and doesn’t use his 6’4 frame to clear bodies in the crease.

Adam Ollas-Mattsson has not been as solid defensively as at the start of the season. He has contributed more offensively this season with 10 points (4-6) while leading the team in +/- at a +12, but defensively he is allowing defenders to get by him more often. At 6’5”, he should not get muscled off the puck by a smaller winger.

On a positive defensive note, Rob Hamilton and Kevin Tansey have been a pleasant surprise. Known more for their offense, both have played a steady defensive game. Hamilton leads all Heat defensemen with 21 points (5-16) and is a +6. In eight games Tansey has four points (2-2) and a +1.

I am writing a separate post on the forward group that will be coming out later this week. It will focus on the “Black Ace” factor for the eligible wingers and centers that could help the Flames make a deep playoff run as they chase the cup.

There will be one more article before our trip to Calgary for the Flames/Sharks rematch on Feb. 7 and the Canucks/Flames game in Vancouver on Feb. 9. Looking forward to meeting as many of you as possible.

  • SGRietzey

    Such a disappointment how Gillies has panned out, and can’t help but wonder how things look if he doesn’t have that hip injury in his rookie season. Goalie development is a crapshoot at the best of times, but it’s hard not to think that maybe his development was irreparably hampered by the injury. Would love to see him put it together, but he’s squandered every opportunity to win the net at this point.

    Of equal concern to me is how much the Flames seemed to have banked on him as their goalie of the future, in spite of evidence to the contrary (and how that likely contributed to their rationale in going after a stopgap starter measure like Smith, another issue unto itself). I’m already concerned about the goaltending pipeline; seeing some strong Parsons performances gives me some confidence, but if it weren’t for Rittich taking the reins this year, the disaster that has been our goalie development would reach new highs.

    • oilcanboyd

      “how much the Flames seemed to have banked on him (Gillies) as their goalie of the future. They drafted Parsons so they didn’t totally bank on Gillies as their goalie….

      • MDG1600

        Don’t try to put lipstick on a pig – the Flames totally had Gillies pegged as the goalie of the future. When it comes to evaluating goaltending talent the Flames have been among the worst organizations in the league in the league since the day Kipper retired.

        • Em Durp Em Hrudey

          I don’t completely agree with that. Evaluation of goaltending is not simple and most teams get it wrong. David Rittich seems to be working out fine. Not a draft pick, but picked up by the scouts. He is the future.

          • oilcanboyd

            Agreed. Laurent Brossoit drafted in the 6th round, did not play for the Flames in NHL, traded to the Oilers who had him for 2 seasons – played like you might expect a 6th rounder to play. Oilers dumped him; Jets picked him up as a UFA for salary of 650,000 and now is a super backup for the Jets. Goalies are voodoo, you never know how fast they develop or whether they develop or not. Not convinced that Gillies is off the radar.

          • Em Durp Em Hrudey

            Ok, so now that Chia has once again thrown the salary balance out if wack by signing Koskinen to a 4.5 per season contract what is Rittich going to cost now? How does that man have a job still?

        • Pete_R

          I doubt internally the Flames had him 100% pegged as the starter of the future… I’d say that is probably fan gossip more than anything. As mentioned by others, goalie draft picks are lotto tickets and it is largely random who comes out in the end. Teams know this.

      • buts

        The flames management gave Gillies a one way in his second year of his contract guaranteed even if he’s in the minors. Rittich is on a 2 way. Gillies has been given a golden path, why? Because he was a 3 round or 6’6”. Either way he has had plenty of opportunity and hasn’t earned it.

      • SGRietzey

        The one-way contract next year says otherwise. I don’t think they give him that without the expectation that he wins a spot on the big club, and I’m pretty sure they had been vocal about Gillies being their goalie of the future. Parsons would be next in line/an insurance policy, but they absolutely had Gillies pegged for it.

        Speculation on my part, but I would expect the trajectory they had hoped for was:
        -Gillies wins the backup job out of camp last season, and keeps his head above water. I don’t think it’s fair to put this one entirely on Gillies; he was 3-4 on the depth chart to begin with and when he did get called up in the second half of the season, wasn’t playing great – but neither was the team. You’d still hope to see something to give you hope, though.
        -Gets more reps in this season, as a 1B to a hypothetical Smith 1A who can mentor him in the last year of his own contract (pre-Smith’s performance falling off a cliff). Obviously not happening; even with an injury to one of Rittich or Smith, at best he’ll have spot duty.
        -Next season, 1A in tandem with Smith/1B veteran free-agent/trade as insurance policy.

    • Rudy27

      Perhaps there’s something to the injury, but I still see his main issue when he was playing up here as losing his net (often leaving him out of position for the next stop).

    • Spider you muda&@#ker

      I dont see how Calgary’s goalie development has been a disaster thats a bit harsh. Rittich came through Stockton and hes working out nicely and looks like Parsons is starting to show signs of being a quality prospect again. Drafting goalies is hit 1% and miss 99% of the time for every organization not just the flames. Gillies is still young he might still figure it out but its not looking good. As long as one of these guys works out in the long term I think flames organization will be happy.

    • The Red Knight

      It’s harder to tell if it’s the goalies fault completely when you constantly here that the Defence is poor , 3 games a piece is a small sample size comparison , and maybe Gillies got the harder teams . But parsons is basically a rookie and is outplaying him, also parsons was a higher draft pick , I’d say Flames were not confident in Gillies and that’s why they drafted even higher for parsons.

  • Brian McGrattan's Salute

    Thanks for all this great work!

    Glad Parsons is doing great, and I hope that they do the right thing and give him the starters reigns. But that puts the org in a tough position, especially considering the one way status of Gilles next season. Will this dictate a trade? I also remember Faragher killing it in the training camp no? Good goalie depth, drafted or not, always comes in handy.

    Should we be looking to use one of our picks this year for a goalie prospect? Again, it appears that Gilles is “in the way” (not losing faith in him completely, but what else do we call it?)

  • freethe flames

    Glad to here Parson’s is coming around. While I hate to give up on Gilles(goalies are always voodoo) it is probably time. What concerns me even more is the lack of defencemen in the system. It’s great that Andersson, Kylington and Valimak have all become NHL defencemen but at the moment we have have no CHL/NCAA/Euro guys in the pipeline and no one in the AHL that is even close. This might need to be a priority.

      • Harley Hotchkiss’s Ghost

        I couldn’t agree more, Valimaki is ALWAYS injured. I follow the WHL and he was batttling an injury for three years straight (now four). For this reason Kylington is above Valimaki for me now.

        • Harley Hotchkiss’s Ghost

          Just to clarify, I still really like Valimaki, but his regular injuries are becoming concerning and for that reason he would be the one going down to the AHL once he returns and not Kylington. Kylington has also paid his dues for his franchise and he gets better and better each game. Kylingtons ceiling is higher for me than even Andersson, because the physical tool package is so elite.

        • The Red Knight

          Yes but give Valimaki 3 years in the AHL then at the same age who would be better ? I like Kylington and think we should keep him as he looks like he will be a fast dangerous player , like etik Karlsson type. Valimaki also looks Awesome and was noticeably getting better every game and looks to be another stud draft pick . Let’s be greedy and keep all of them . Hanifin/Valimaki Kylington/Anderson , look to be a decent future on the Flame d core.

    • oilcanboyd

      Hard to evaluate our goalies in Stockton with their second rate defence as it stands now. Some goalies thrive under that and others don’t. Flames run and gun style was the undoing of Smitty the first part of the season, although he is now getting used to the some times helter-skelter defending.

  • withachance

    Very encouraging to hear about Parsons! Shame about Gillies, as you know he’s just gonna turn out to be a stud for another team, cause that just seems to be how goalies work…

    Hopefully the organization can get a modest return for him if they do ship him out

    • Harley Hotchkiss’s Ghost

      I think injuries have killed Gillies career. Hip injuries are dreaded throughout the Hockey world as the one injury most wont come back from. I think the Flames more than recognize this.

  • Cheeky

    Thanks for the updates as usual SF, is the defense a coaching system flaw or the players aren’t good enough or maybe bit of both. Seems the have experienced guys but disappointing to hear the big guys (Neilsen and AOM) aren’t clearing the net. Cheers!

      • Harley Hotchkiss’s Ghost

        Parsons with another quality start today it looks like saving 29 of 30. If he can string together some more quality starts he could be with the big club in a pinch down the stretch. He was such a star in junior. Glad to see he is starting to figure it out in pro.

  • Cfan in Van

    The big question about Gilles is how do you sell another team on a guy who A) Needs time to develop if he’s ever going to be NHL ready, and B) will make 0.75M regardless of where he plays?

  • CalgaryBornandRaised

    It’s interesting you bring up defense, as the Flames have three rookie guys all playing up with the big club, which is very rare to have. One or two of them would most likely be playing in the AHL if they were on another team

    Possible that Valamaki does a conditioning stint down there during the break for the Flames, so at least some good news for Stockton

    Guess it just highlights that the defense pipeline beyond Kylington, Andersson and Valamaki is thin, 51 shots, yikes

    I totally agree, time to move on from Gillies

  • aflame13

    I logged in just to say this.

    There’s no hecking way I would ever trade a young, athletic, tall goalie like Gillies in the middle of his worst season to date.

  • Harley Hotchkiss’s Ghost

    “Hamilton leads all Heat defensemen with 21 points (5-16) and is a +6.”

    Rob Hamilton definitely deserves an NHL-AHL two way deal next year.

  • Skylardog

    Awesome SF.

    Looking forward to the Black Aces article. The heat have been ransacked defensively, and it is showing. That looks like 4 good forward lines, but they have to play both ends of the ice.

    Scary that you are saying we need to be done with Gillies, even at the AHL level. We have a 1-way deal with him next season.

    The hopper looks awfully bare down there.

    • BendingCorners

      Gillies has had a few good games, just not recently. He might need a different playing style, especially if his hip is still causing issues. I’m not sure the Flames should give up on him just yet.

  • Skylardog

    Hey SF

    What are the plans for your day when you are in town? We should be doing a get together for all that are interested in having a few beers. Could continue even after the guys that are going to the game leave.

    I think we all need a chance to meet WW and buy him a beer.

    • Stockton's Finest

      In Calgary, we are going to pre game at Naina’s Kitchen on 17th around 5 PM. Easy 10 minute walk to the barn from there. We are sitting in 213 for the game so hopefully get some time in between periods as well. After the game we are planning to hit up Jamison’s on 17th, unless there is something better. I just saw that Jamison’s was open until 1 am.

      In Vancouver, we are doing Devil’s Elbow before the game (5 PM again) and after that game still looking (maybe Yaletown Brewing?).

      I am writing one more article besides the Black Ace one (already completed and uploades) and I will re-post our plans. Looking forward to meeting as many FN posters as possible.

  • freethe flames

    Just pondering the standings; Bettman wanted league parity- looks like he got want he wanted. The Metro division: the three teams in the playoffs are only just above the 2nd wild card. In the west especially the central the 3rd place team is only 1 point up on the 2 wild card teams and there are 5 other teams within striking distance of those wild card positions. If this continues it should make for an interesting TDL.

  • The Real SlimBrodie

    The game against the sharks is coming fast. This will probably be one of the most important games of the season so far. Win and we push ourselves far enough ahead that all we have to do is look forward to passing the lightning when we play. Gfg