HGD 4: Tired of the Marlies yet? (2:00 pm MT, AHL TV)
Photo credit:Graphic by Mike Gould
By Mike Gould1 year ago
Today, the first Stockton Heat homestand of the season finally comes to a close.
Things have not always come easy for the Heat (1-2-0) in their first three games of the season. The American Hockey League’s schedule-makers slated the Heat to begin the year with a four-game series against the Toronto Marlies (4-3-0) at their new Scotiabank Saddle-home.
Stockton’s biggest opponent thus far has undoubtedly been Marlies goaltender Andrew D’Agostini, a 27-year-old without an AHL contract who has held the Heat to just six goals on 101 shots thus far. That’s right: even considering they scored four goals with 28 shots against the Marlies on Wednesday, D’Agostini still sports a .941 save percentage against the Heat this season.
But the Heat finally found some goaltending of their own in their most recent game. Stockton nabbed its first win of the season on Wednesday largely on the back of 19-year-old AHL pre-rookie Dustin Wolf, who made 36 saves en route to a 4-2 victory. That’s right, “pre-rookie” — Wolf technically isn’t supposed to be in this league for another year, but with the Western Hockey League’s delayed start, he’s able to get in some game action with the Heat.
After getting acclimated to the AHL in his first game and allowing five goals on 11 shots, Wolf has started to look like he already belongs in the pro ranks. He was the best player on the ice for either team on Wednesday. It remains to be seen whether he or Garret Sparks will start for the Heat today.
Zac Leslie, Alex Petrovic, and Adam Ruzicka all scored on Wednesday for Stockton, with the latter tallying twice on feeds from Matthew Phillips. Flames 2020 first round pick Connor Zary occupied the third spot on the top Heat line alongside those two and recorded his first AHL point in the game.
The Heat are looking for back-to-back wins after dropping consecutive lopsided decisions to open the season. The team followed up an ugly 7-1 debut effort with another lacklustre 5-1 loss before winning 4-2 in Game Three of this series.
Zary, Emilio Pettersen, Connor Mackey, Colton Poolman, and Dmitry Zavgorodniy are all still searching for their first professional goals. Defenseman Carl-Johan Lerby is also still without a goal since coming over from Sweden to North America.
The Heat went with these lines on Wednesday (King was scratched):
The Marlies deployed this group in that game:
Players to watch
Stockton — Adam Ruzicka. The big centre peppered D’Agostini with eight shots on Wednesday and beat him twice for his first two goals of the season. Ruzicka is settling in nicely to his new role as Stockton’s number-one centre and is developing palpable chemistry with star Heat winger Matthew Phillips.
Toronto — Andrew D’Agostini. It remains to be seen whether the Marlies’ new star goaltender will get the nod this afternoon. If he does, watch out: he has the ability to steal games. Even after his loss to the Heat on Wednesday—he still looked pretty sharp and made 24 saves on 28 shots—D’Agostini sits at an excellent .922 save percentage on the year and has started each of Toronto’s first seven games. If he doesn’t play today, look for 20-year-old backup Kai Edmonds to make his AHL debut.
How to watch
This game will be broadcast on AHLTV.com (subscription required). Puck-drop will be at 2:00 p.m. MT. Live game updates can be found on Twitter at @miketgould and @theheatbeat, or online at TheAHL.com.
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