HGD 51: Heat have second opportunity to clinch playoff berth (7:05 p.m. MT)

Photo credit:Graphic by Mike Gould
Mike Gould
2 years ago
The Stockton Heat will be in complete control of their destiny on Friday evening.
All the Heat need is just one point against the Colorado Eagles on March 18 and they’ll become the first American Hockey League team to clinch a berth in the 2022 Calder Cup playoffs.
No other outcomes matter. The Heat don’t need any other teams to lose or win. If they pick up one point — or, ideally, two — tonight against the Eagles, they’re in.
Stockton had the opportunity to lock down their place in the post-season on Wednesday night. The Tucson Roadrunners lost to the San Jose Barracuda by a 4–0 score that same day, opening the door for the Heat to clinch with one point against the Bakersfield Condors.
Instead, Heat goaltender @Adam Werner allowed three goals on nine shots before being replaced by @Dustin Wolf and Bakersfield cruised to a 5–1 victory. @Byron Froese scored Stockton’s only goal in the loss.
With the defeat, Stockton (35–10–5) became the last AHL team to 10 regulation losses in 2021–22. They’ll look to avoid making that 11 on Friday when they visit the Colorado Eagles, currently the third-ranked team in the Pacific with a 29–17–7 record.
Stockton last met up with Colorado exactly four months ago. Back on Dec. 18, 2021, the Heat defeated the Eagles at Stockton Arena by a 5–2 score, with @Walker Duehr scoring a pair of goals in the victory.

Projected lineups

These combinations are based, in part, on those used in these teams’ respective previous games. 
@Jakob Pelletier – @Adam Ruzicka – @Matthew Phillips
@Justin Kirkland – @Glenn Gawdin – @Luke Philp
@Emilio Pettersen – @Byron Froese – @Walker Duehr
@Alex Gallant – @Connor Zary – @Eetu Tuulola
@Connor Mackey – @Colton Poolman
@Kevin Gravel – @Nick DeSimone
@Juuso Valimaki – @Johannes Kinnvall
@Dustin Wolf
@Adam Werner
@Dylan Sikura – @Mikhail Maltsev – @Kiefer Sherwood
@Stefan Matteau – @Jayson Megna – @Martin Kaut
@Ryan Wagner – @Andreas Wingerli – @Jean-Luc Foudy
@Dalton Smith – @Gabriel Fontaine – @Shane Bowers
@Dennis Gilbert – @Jordan Gross
@Jacob MacDonald – @Justin Barron
@Keaton Middleton – @Roland McKeown
@Justus Annunen
@Hunter Miska

Scoring leaders

This section excludes players recalled to the NHL or on assignment to other leagues.
Stockton — @Matthew Phillips (21 goals, 50 points); @Jakob Pelletier (22 goals, 48 points); @Glenn Gawdin (12 goals, 42 points); @Luke Philp (18 goals, 32 points); @Justin Kirkland (14 goals, 31 points).
Colorado — @Kiefer Sherwood (27 goals, 51 points); @Dylan Sikura (22 goals, 51 points); @Jordan Gross (seven goals, 48 points); @Mikhail Maltsev (12 goals, 35 points); @Cal Burke (10 goals, 24 points).

Heating up

It remains to be seen whether @Adam Ruzicka will return to the Heat lineup for Friday’s game. He did not dress for the Heat during his brief demotion earlier in the week, but his current stay in Stockton will likely last longer with @Calle Jarnkrok’s arrival in Calgary.
If Ruzicka does play against Colorado, expect him to slot right back into his old position between @Jakob Pelletier and @Matthew Phillips on Stockton’s top line. In his time with the Heat earlier in the season, Ruzicka scored 10 goals and 16 points in 13 games; with the Flames, he has five goals and nine points in 23 contests.

How to watch

Friday’s game in Colorado will be broadcast on AHL TV (subscription required) and on Spreaker (audio only), with the opening puck-drop set for 7:05 p.m. MT.
FlamesNation contributor Paige Siewert will provide live game updates on her Twitter account. Additionally, you’ll be able to follow along at TheAHL.com.

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