Heat Playoff Post-Game: Stockton undefeated in playoffs, takes first game against Colorado
6 months ago
After sweeping the Bakersfield Condors in three straight games, the Stockton Heat have not played a formal hockey game in 10 days. This wasn’t a glaring problem as they opened up the second round of the Calder Cup Playoffs against the Colorado Eagles without skipping a beat. They started this series on Monday night with a 5-0 win on home ice.
Enjoying it while they can
The same day this series started, announcements came out from the Flames and Heat earlier in the afternoon that the Stockon Heat will not be playing the 2022-23 season in Stockton, California. Instead, they will come to Calgary for at least one season until a permanent location is sorted out. With that being said, the days in the Stockton arena could be limited for at least the following year.
Since this news came out, the Heat followed up with a strong home-ice performance to at least keep some of the last memories at this location positive for the time being. Their crowds have been small all year, but seen in this game was a homemade sign from a young fan saying, “Please don’t go,” with Flames drawn on the bottom of the poster.
Game at a glance
The quick scoring you may have been used to seeing in the Flames and Oilers match-up was not the case in this series opener. Stockton and Colorado played a good 24 minutes without lighting the lamp and even kept the stoppages in play to a minimum. Only two penalties were dealt through the first period and that was pretty much the extent of the action. The first period did not play out like the rival match-up we saw in the last playoff series for the Heat.
In the second period, things started to get going. By things, I mean Stockton scoring. Justin Kirkland earned the first goal of the game with his second playoff goal of the year. This sharp angle shot paid off big and gave the Heat some momentum going into the rest of the game.
The next goal came just shy of three minutes later with the Heat on a power play. Andy Welinski was set up by Kirkland and Matthew Phillips and quickly put the Heat up two zip.
The dust of this goal settled for a bit before the Heat struck again. 14:34 into the period, Eetu Tuulola also felt he was due for a lamplighter and scored the third unanswered goal for the Heat with a gorgeous one-timer that left zero time for the Eagles goalie to react.
That was quite enough action for the second period and gave the Heat a comfortable lead going into the third. In the third period, it took a mere 3:16 for the Heat to score once again. Justin Kirkland scored his second in this game and earned his third point of the night. Colton Poolman picked up the lone assist.
The Heat then took their first penalty of the night and no harm came of it. The next team to score was, you guessed it, the Heat. Matthew Phillips scored the fifth and final goal of the night at 12:40 into the third period.
Being down 5-0 in an opening playoff series game is hard to come back from and the Eagles really didn’t seem to have the means to do so. They had some opportunities here and there but nothing too high danger that was really out of the ability of Dustin Wolf to stop. The lead was also too much for the Eagles to even bother pulling their goaltender for.
Time ran out in regulation and the Heat took a comfortable 5-0 win in this best of five series.
Milestone night for Dustin Wolf
By no surprise, it’s been all Wolf all playoffs. This game was especially special as it was his first pro shutout. Quite surprising for the number of games he played this season and the level at which the AHL’s goaltender of the year performed in those games. He had 17 games where he held his opponent to a single goal but not one of them in which he did not let any goals in.
What better time to achieve your first pro shutout than in a tone-setting game of your playoff series? Wolf faced 23 Eagles shots and turned away every single one of them.
It’s time for the Heat to get back into tight schedules and continue rolling through the playoffs. They have still yet to lose a game in the 2021-22 AHL post-season and their next game takes place on Tuesday night. Same time, same place, same opponent. They will play game two at the Stockton Arena at 7:30 p.m. MT.
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