Dmitry Zavgorodniy: so hot right now!
The 20-year-old AHL rookie endured through a difficult first two months at the professional level earlier this season. Skating in a depth role, he put up zeroes in every offensive category over his first 19 games before being made a healthy scratch on Apr. 2 in Laval.
Since his return to the lineup, Zavgorodniy has become one of Stockton’s more dangerous offensive players and is finally starting to find his offensive groove. Maybe that’s why they call the AHL a “developmental league”…
Zavgorodniy scored his first AHL goal on Thursday evening while skating in his 23rd game with the Heat. The goal extended Zavgorodniy’s point streak to three games and further cemented his spot in the team’s top-six up front.
Glenn Gawdin also found the back of the net for Stockton, which eventually lost 4-2 to the Belleville Senators. Cole Reinhart, J.C. Beaudin, Parker Kelly, and Egor Sokolov all scored for the visitors.
Garret Sparks allowed four goals on 16 shots before being pulled in favour of Andrew Shortridge in the second period. 20-year-old B-Sens netminder Kevin Mandolese was fantastic, making 24 saves en route to his second victory as a professional.
Belleville improved to 9-12-1 with the win; Stockton fell to 10-13-1 with the setback. These two teams will conclude their season series this Saturday at 2:00 pm MT.
Fresh off a two-point effort on Wednesday, Heat forward Matthew Phillips seemed intent on making his mark early in Thursday’s game. He made a power move towards the net off a faceoff and drew the game’s first penalty in the process.
Stockton failed to capitalize on its early man-advantage and followed that up by taking four consecutive minor penalties in the first period. Despite spending much of the opening frame on the man-advantage, both of Belleville’s first-period goals came at even strength.
Cole Reinhardt tallied the first one, locating the puck high in the air and batting it past Sparks in the slot. Jack Dougherty picked up the assist on Reinhardt’s third goal of the season.
Just 22 seconds later, the Senators doubled their lead. With both Heat defensemen caught below their own goal line, Belleville pulled off a tricky tic-tac-toe passing play and J.C. Beaudin finished it off.
Beaudin played 22 NHL games in Ottawa last year but was still looking for his first goal in the AHL this season. That search has now ended; Vitaly Abramov and Joseph LaBate recorded the helpers on the insurance marker.
With Stockton reeling and down two players, the Senators continued to push for a greater cushion. Sparks didn’t get much help from his defenders and Belleville was able to test him with multiple great scoring opportunities.
LaBate took a penalty of his own with 1:54 remaining in the first period, sending Stockton to a second power play. Phillips was able to move the puck around effectively in Belleville’s zone but Mandolese was up to the task when he attempted to set up Byron Froese for a tap-in.
LaBate received another infraction right as his first one expired, getting dinged
for playing the puck before fully stepping out of the penalty box. (No, seriously, that’s part of the interference rule).
Stockton’s third power play did not work as planned. Senators forward Parker Kelly was able to skate the puck down the ice all by himself, deking out Emilio Pettersen in the process, before firing it over Sparks’ glove.
Stockton had a big problem with allowing odd-man rushes in the second period. 6’8″, 249-pound Curtis Douglas came barreling down on one of his own and tried to find the same location Kelly did. Sparks got just enough of the puck to keep it out.
Gawdin had a fantastic chance to get his team back into the game at the halfway mark of the second period. After a bit of a broken defensive play by Belleville, Luke Philp picked up the puck on the right side and sent it through the crease to a wide-open Gawdin.
The 24-year-old centre beat Mandolese with a rocket of a shot. It slammed into the post and bounced outwards.
Zavgorodniy finally got the Heat on the board at the 12:23 mark of the second period. He rifled a high wrister short-side on Mandolese to cut the Belleville lead to 3-1.
Colton Beck and Connor Mackey picked up the helpers on Zavgorodniy’s first professional tally.
Sparks let in the very next shot he faced. With C.J. Lerby in the box for roughing, Abramov found an open Egor Sokolov after the offensive zone face-off for a one-timer at the left circle.
Sokolov made no mistake, potting his 11th goal of the season and chasing Sparks just 34 seconds after Zavgorodniy’s goal. Andrew Shortridge replaced Sparks in the Heat net.
Stockton kept pushing to get back into the game in the third period. Beck managed to get some good chances against Mandolese and appeared to have put the puck across the goal line as the clock neared the eight-minute mark of the final frame.
Beck received a one-time pass from Rob Hamilton and fired the puck at the Belleville goal. Mandoelese caught it but the momentum of the puck appeared to push his glove into the net as he made the save. The (non-reviewable) call on the ice was “no goal.”
After hitting the post earlier in the game, Gawdin finally managed to beat Mandolese for real as time ticked away in regulation. With Heat alumnus Cody Goloubef off for interference, Gawdin set up shop in front of the Belleville net.
After a long shot by Zac Leslie changed directions with a bounce off Phillips, Mandolese was caught moving the opposite direction of the puck. Gawdin found it loose at the left side of the net and poked it into the yawning cage for his third goal of the season.
Despite getting close to three full minutes of 6-on-5 time, the Heat failed to beat Mandolese again and ultimately fell by the same 4-2 score as in Wednesday’s game.
Dmitry Zavgorodniy – Giorgio Estephan – Matthew Phillips
Emilio Pettersen – Glenn Gawdin – Luke Philp
Colton Beck – Byron Froese – Eetu Tuulola
Alex Gallant – Mark Simpson – Kris Bennett
Connor Mackey – Zac Leslie
Colton Poolman – Alexander Yelesin
CJ Lerby – Rob Hamilton
Angus Crookshank – Mark Kastelic – Egor Sokolov
Joseph LaBate – J.C. Beaudin – Vitaly Abramov
Cole Reinhardt – Cole Cassels – Parker Kelly
Joe Carroll – Curtis Douglas – Jonathan Davidsson
Jonathan Aspirot – Colby Williams
Cody Goloubef – Jack Dougherty
Hubert Labrie – Lassi Thomson
Why the Heat lost
They took a ton of penalties. Belleville had eight opportunities with the man-advantage, including four in the first period, and quickly seized momentum early in the game. Stockton mustered just two shots (compared to Belleville’s nine) in the opening 20 minutes.
Sparks had some good stretches in goal but also needed to get some saves on a couple of Belleville’s goals. Shortridge was perfect in relief but didn’t face many shots, making six saves over his 24:06 in the Heat crease.
The hottest Heat
Dmitry Zavgorodniy has battled all season and is finally seeing the rewards for his hard work manifesting in front of him. He was one of Stockton’s most electric players on Thursday, logging big minutes in offensive situations and firing three shots against Mandolese.
With Zavgorodniy firing at all cylinders, the Heat have a valuable top-six option who can make plays very few AHLers could execute. He’s very similar to Phillips, in that regard.
The Heat will wrap up their homestand against Belleville on Saturday at 2:00 pm MT. You can catch that game on AHL TV; I’ll be posting updates on Twitter at @miketgould.