Today, for the first time this season, the Stockton Heat will play on a Tuesday.
Technically, Tuesday’s game against the San Jose Barracuda already should’ve happened. It was originally supposed to take place on Sunday, Oct. 31, but a massive COVID outbreak in the San Jose organization caused the game to be postponed and later rescheduled to Dec. 7.
American Hockey League teams primarily play on weekends, with the odd Wednesday game sprinkled in. This season, the Heat are scheduled to play 22 games on Fridays, 20 on Saturdays, eight on Sundays, 14 on Wednesdays, twice on Tuesdays, and one each on a Monday and Thursday.
The Heat originally had just one Tuesday game on their docket for this season, against the Tucson Roadrunners on Jan. 4. We’ll see if the unusual timing of today’s contest against San Jose impacts Stockton’s chances of winning a third consecutive game.
Evander Kane could make his season debut — in any league — for the Barracuda on Tuesday. The troubled 30-year-old forward was assigned to the AHL on Nov. 29 but has not appeared in either of San Jose’s last two contests.
Stockton is coming off a two-game weekend sweep of the San Diego Gulls, during which Dustin Wolf allowed just three goals on 62 shots and Connor Mackey recorded five points (including two shorthanded goals).
San Jose split its weekend series against the Abbotsford Canucks, winning 6–4 in a back-and-forth game on Saturday before falling 5–2 the following night. While Stockton currently leads the Pacific Division with a 13–2–2 record, the Barracuda rank last at 6–9–1.
It remains to be seen whether Matthew Phillips will be cleared from COVID protocol and return to the lineup for Tuesday’s game. The 23-year-old forward has 13 points in 14 games this season but has missed Stockton’s last three contests while in protocol.
These combinations are based, in part, on those used in these teams’ respective previous games.
Jakob Pelletier – Glenn Gawdin – Martin Pospisil
Emilio Pettersen – Connor Zary – Luke Philp
Justin Kirkland – Byron Froese – Walker Duehr
Alex Gallant – Ryan Olsen – Eetu Tuulola
Connor Mackey – Andy Welinski
Juuso Valimaki – Colton Poolman
Ilya Solovyov – Nick DeSimone
Jayden Halbgewachs – Nick Merkley – Evander Kane
Sasha Chmelevski – Scott Reedy – Evan Weinger
Jeffrey Viel – John Leonard – Joachim Blichfeld
Jake McGrew – Krystof Hrabik – Adam Raska
Jaycob Megna – Cole Moberg
Santeri Hatakaa – Ryan Merkley
Nick Cicek – Montana Onyebuchi
This section excludes players recalled to the NHL or on assignment to other leagues.
Stockton — Jakob Pelletier (seven goals, 19 points); Glenn Gawdin (five goals, 17 points); Matthew Phillips (five goals, 13 points); Byron Froese (four goals, 11 points); Luke Philp (six goals, 10 points).
San Jose — Scott Reedy (nine goals, 15 points); Jayden Halbgewachs (six goals, 14 points); Joachim Blichfeld (seven goals, 12 points); Nick Merkley (three goals, 10 points); Ryan Merkley (one goal, 10 points).
Players to watch
Stockton — 21-year-old winger Emilio Pettersen has really struggled to find his place in Stockton’s lineup this season. He’s a short, skilled forward on a team loaded with short, skilled forwards, and he hasn’t been able to do much of anything in an ill-fitting bottom-six role. There’s a lot of hockey left for Emilio this season but he hasn’t been able to pick up the pace in Matthew Phillips’ vacated top-six spot over the last three games.
San Jose — It’s difficult to overstate just how underwhelming Alexei Melnichuk has been since arriving in North America. The 23-year-old goaltender has appeared in 27 AHL games with the Barracuda and has allowed a staggering 92 goals. His .857 save percentage this season is the worst in the entire league by a considerable margin. It’s getting to the point where San Jose should probably consider giving backup Zachary Sawchenko more starts.