The Stockton Heat have never been hotter, and they’ll look to build upon their already impressive 16–2–3 record on Friday when they take on the Colorado Eagles at 8:00 p.m. MT.
Stockton’s top line of Matthew Phillips, Glenn Gawdin, and Jakob Pelletier has been primarily responsible for driving the team’s success over the first two months of the season.
Over the past two games, however, it’s mostly been Dustin Wolf and the team’s secondary scoring leading the way. Gawdin and Phillips each recorded a single point in Stockton’s 5–1 win over the Tucson Roadrunners on Dec. 11 before being held off the scoresheet against the Bakersfield Condors on Dec. 15; Pelletier failed to record a point in either contest.
Wolf stopped 29 of 30 shots in the Roadrunners game before denying 30 of 31 in the 2–1 shootout win over Bakersfield. Connor Zary, Emilio Pettersen, Martin Pospisil, and Ilya Solovyov each recorded two points in Tucson; Andy Welinski was the lone Heat player to record a single point against Bakersfield on Wednesday.
Colorado might just be the opponent to kickstart Stockton’s top line once again. The Eagles (10–9–3) are far from being bottom feeders in the AHL but they’ve already allowed 72 goals in just 22 games.
On Dec. 15, the Eagles lost to the San Jose Barracuda by a 10–5 score (yes, you read that right). Colorado starter Justus Annunen allowed eight goals on 32 shots before being pulled midway through the third period for Hunter Miska, who proceeded to allow two goals on two shots. Yeesh.
It’s unclear who will start in goal for Stockton tonight. Wolf has started each of the last two games and has been nothing short of spectacular all season, with a 12–0–2 record and a .941 save percentage; Adam Werner is a former Colorado Eagle who is 1–1–0 with an .855 save percentage this season against his old team.
These combinations are based, in part, on those used in these teams’ respective previous games.
Jakob Pelletier – Glenn Gawdin – Matthew Phillips
Emilio Pettersen – Connor Zary – Martin Pospisil
Justin Kirkland – Luke Philp – Walker Duehr
Alex Gallant – Mark Simpson – Eetu Tuulola
Connor Mackey – Nick DeSimone
Juuso Valimaki – Colton Poolman
Ilya Solovyov – Andy Welinski
Dylan Sikura – Jayson Megna – Mikhail Maltsev
Martin Kaut – Callahan Burke – Kiefer Sherwood
Jean-Luc Foudy – Andreas Wingerli – Sampo Ranta
Trey Bradley – Shane Bowers – Ryan Wagner
Andreas Englund – Charle-Edouard D’Astous
Rob Hamilton – Roland McKeown
Keaton Middleton – Nate Clurman
This section excludes players recalled to the NHL or on assignment to other leagues.
Stockton — Jakob Pelletier (nine goals, 25 points); Glenn Gawdin (eight goals, 24 points); Matthew Phillips (nine goals, 20 points); Connor Mackey (three goals, 13 points); Andy Welinski (one goal, 13 points).
Colorado — Kiefer Sherwood (nine goals, 18 points); Dylan Sikura (seven goals, 18 points); Mikhail Maltsev (five goals, 15 points); Rob Hamilton (three goals, 12 points); Jean-Luc Foudy (two goals, 10 points).
Players to watch
Stockton — What is Ilya Solovyov‘s ceiling? The 21-year-old defenceman (and Calgary 2020 seventh-round pick) picked up his first two AHL goals in Stockton’s 5–1 win over Tucson on Dec. 11, bringing his point total up to three in 11 games this season. This isn’t his first go-round in a high-level professional league, either: Solovyov played 41 games in the Kontinental Hockey League last season with Dinamo Minsk. He’s very seasoned in the pro ranks for such a young defenceman.
Colorado — When will Martin Kaut make the jump? The Colorado Avalanche selected the Czech forward 16th overall in 2018; now 22 years old, Kaut has just 20 NHL games and three points to his name. He’s a 6’2″ right-shooting winger who has been productive in the AHL, with 22 points in 27 games over the last two seasons, but it remains to be seen how he’ll be able to find his fit on a very deep Avalanche team.
How to watch
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