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Photo Credit: Graphic by Mike Gould

HGD 1: Opening the 2021–22 season with a tilt against Tucson (8 p.m. MT, AHL TV)

Stockton Heat hockey is back!

The Calgary Flames’ American Hockey League affiliate will kick off its 2021–22 season tonight when the Tucson Roadrunners visit the Stockton Arena for a game at 7:00 p.m. local time (8:00 p.m. MT on AHL TV).

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Friday’s game will be the first behind the bench for new Heat head coach Mitch Love, who replaced the promoted Cail MacLean during the off-season.

It’ll also be Stockton’s first game back in the United States since the 2019–20 season. The club spent the entire 2020–21 campaign playing out of Calgary’s Scotiabank Saddledome due to logistical concerns created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Note: AHL TV is running a free preview of their streaming service from Oct. 15 to 17, so you’ll be able to watch this game for FREE by signing up at https://www.watchtheahl.com/.

Projected lineups

Stockton

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Stockton released its 30-man opening roster Friday morning, featuring 16 forwards, nine defencemen, and five goaltenders. Here’s our best guess as to what lineup the Heat will go with on Friday:

Forwards

Martin Pospisil – Adam Ruzicka – Matthew Phillips
Jakob Pelletier – Luke Philp – Walker Duehr
Justin Kirkland – Byron Froese – Emilio Pettersen
Dmitry Zavgorodniy – Mark Simpson – Ryan Francis

Projected scratches: Eetu Tuulola, Reid Perepeluk, Ryan Olsen, Alex Gallant

Defencemen

Connor Mackey – Andy Welinski
Kevin Gravel – Ilya Solovyov
Yan Kuznetsov – Nick DeSimone

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Projected scratches: Greg Moro, Colton Poolman, Alec McCrea

Goaltenders

The Heat have five goaltenders on the roster: Adam Werner, Dustin Wolf, Matt Greenfield, Andrew Shortridge, and Daniil Chechelev.

We expect Werner will get the start on Friday with Wolf backing him up.

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Tucson

Here is the Roadrunners’ opening roster:

Forwards

Michael Carcone, Blake Speers, Boko Imama, Ryan McGregor, Jan Jenik, Ben McCartney, Hudson Fasching, Travis Barron, Barrett Hayton, Cameron Hebig, Matias Maccelli, Liam Kirk

Defencemen

Cole Hults, Cam Dineen, Cameron Crotty, Vladislav Kolyachonok, Dysin Mayo, Ty Emberson, Janis Moser

Goaltenders

Josef Korenar, Ivan Prosvetov

Players to watch

Stockton Matthew Phillips. After a somewhat disappointing NHL training camp with the Flames, Phillips is back with the Heat to try and take another step forward in his quest to become a big-leaguer. He led the 2020–21 edition of the Heat with 22 points in 30 games, tying his linemate Adam Ruzicka for that distinction, but his production noticeably slowed down as the season progressed.

Tucson — Liam Kirk. The first British-trained player to be drafted by an NHL team, Kirk will make his AHL debut Friday with Tucson. He signed an entry-level contract with the Arizona Coyotes in the off-season after he tied for the 2021 IIHF World Championship tournament lead with seven goals.

How to watch

This game will be broadcast on AHLTV.com (subscription required) and on Spreaker (audio only), with the opening puck-drop set for 8:00 pm MT. Live game updates can be found on Twitter at @miketgould or online at TheAHL.com.