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Photo Credit: Photo courtesy the Stockton Heat

Stockton set to face formidable Colorado team in second round of AHL playoffs

It’s a good time to play in the Calgary Flames organization.

As the National Hockey League club prepares to face its provincial rival in the second round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the AHL’s Stockton Heat have already dispatched the Edmonton Oilers’ AHL affiliate and are set to face the Colorado Eagles in the Pacific Division final.

After earning a bye past the best-of-three preliminary round thanks to their status as the Pacific Division’s No. 1 seed, the Heat swept the Bakersfield Condors in the best-of-five Pacific Division semifinal.

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The Heat defeated the Condors 3–1 and 3–2 at Stockton Arena before wrapping up the series with a 6–4 victory in Bakersfield on May 13. Walker Duehr scored the first series-winning goal in Stockton Heat history to seal the deal in Game 3.

Stockton finished the regular season with a 45–16–7 record, good for the second-best points percentage (.713) in the American Hockey League (behind only the Chicago Wolves).

Colorado ended up as the No. 3 seed in the Pacific Division with a 39–22–7 record and a .625 points percentage. The Heat and Eagles met on eight separate occasions during the 2021–22 regular season, with Stockton posting a 5–3–0 record in the season series.

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Matthew Phillips (three goals, six assists) and Jakob Pelletier (five goals, five assists) were the most productive Heat skaters in the eight games against Colorado this season.

Heat starting goaltender Dustin Wolf posted a 4–2–0 record and a sparkling .924 save percentage in six games against the Eagles as a rookie. Wolf, 21, was named the AHL’s top goaltender for the 2021–22 campaign after going 33–9–4 with a .924 save percentage.

Here’s the full log of games between Stockton and Colorado in the regular season:

  • March 30: COL 2 (Hunter Miska) @ STK 1 (Wolf)
  • March 19: STK 10 (Wolf) @ COL 3 (Justus Annunen)
  • March 18: STK 3 (Wolf) @ COL 4 (Annunen)
  • December 18: COL 2 (Trent Miner) @ STK 5 (Wolf)
  • December 17: COL 2 (Annunen) @ STK 3 (Wolf)
  • November 27: STK 1 (Adam Werner) @ COL 5 (Annunen)
  • November 26: STK 3 (Wolf) @ COL 2 (Annunen)
  • October 30: COL 3 (Miska) @ STK 6 (Werner)

Annunen, 22, has started all five of Colorado’s 2022 playoff games to date, posting a perfect 5–0–0 record and a .933 save percentage. In 48 regular-season games with the Eagles, Annunen went 24–13–6 with an .893 save percentage.

Wolf also remains undefeated in Calder Cup competition, having gone 3–0–0 with a .926 save percentage against the Condors in the previous round.

One dangerous player to watch for Colorado: Kiefer Sherwood. The 27-year-old winger led the Eagles in scoring during the regular season with 36 goals and 75 points in 57 games; in four playoff contests, Sherwood has a team-leading eight points (three goals, five assists).

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Fans of the Willie Desjardins-era Vancouver Canucks will remember Jayson Megna, a 6’1″ forward who spent much of the 2016–17 season playing alongside the Sedin twins. Megna, 31, is now plying his trade with the Eagles and has six goals in just five playoff games.

Dylan Sikura, Mikhail Maltsev, and Martin Kaut round out the group of high-scoring Eagles forwards who have also seen significant time in the NHL.

Reigning AHL top defenceman Jordan Gross (65 points in 61 games during the regular season) leads the way for Colorado on the point. Gross, 27, has seven points (one goal, six assists) in five games during the 2022 playoffs.

Games 1 and 2 of the Heat/Eagles series will take place at Stockton Arena on May 23 and 24. From there, the series will shift to Loveland, Colorado for Game 3 on May 27, with Games 4 and 5 (if necessary) also taking place in Colorado on May 29 and 31.


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