The Stockton Heat can clinch their second playoff berth in club history with a win over the Bakersfield Condors (and a little bit of outside help) on Wednesday evening.
One hour after the Heat drop the puck with the Condors at Stockton Arena, the Tucson Roadrunners will play host to the San Jose Barracuda. The Heat will clinch if they pick up at least one more point than Tucson in Wednesday’s action.
If Stockton beats Bakersfield and Tucson loses in any fashion, the Heat are in. Even if the Heat lose in overtime or a shootout, they can still clinch if the Roadrunners come away with zero points against San Jose.
Of course, Stockton has significantly higher aspirations this season than merely making the playoffs. With the highest points percentage and the fewest regulation losses in the American Hockey League this season, this Heat squad appears primed to go far in the Calder Cup playoffs.
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Stockton’s only other AHL post-season berth came in the 2016–17 season, when they ultimately bowed out in five games against the Barracuda in the first round. The Heat were also in a playoff position when the 2019–20 season was prematurely cancelled due to COVID-19.
Since relocating to Stockton in 2015, the Heat have never looked as good as they do this season. They improved to 35–9–5 with a 3–1 win over the Condors (24–16–9) on Monday, with @Eetu Tuulola scoring the deciding goal late in the second period.
@Dustin Wolf made 30 saves for his 26th win of the season. The 20-year-old goaltender now has a 26–4–3 record and a .925 save percentage in his first full professional campaign.
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Projected lineups

These combinations are based, in part, on those used in these teams’ respective previous games. 
Stockton
@Jakob Pelletier – @Glenn Gawdin – @Matthew Phillips
@Justin Kirkland – @Connor Zary – @Luke Philp
@Emilio Pettersen – @Byron Froese – @Walker Duehr
@Alex Gallant – @Mark Simpson – @Eetu Tuulola
@Connor Mackey – @Colton Poolman
@Kevin Gravel – @Nick DeSimone
@Juuso Valimaki – @Johannes Kinnvall
@Dustin Wolf
@Adam Werner
Bakersfield
@Devin Brosseau – @Luke Esposito – @Raphael Lavoie
@James Hamblin – @Seth Griffith – @Brendan Perlini
@Dylan Holloway – @Adam Cracknell – @Tim Schaller
@Graham McPhee – @Dino Kambeitz
@Markus Niemelainen – @Philip Kemp
@Dmitri Samorukov – @Vincent Desharnais
@Yanni Kaldis – @Michael Kesselring
@Filip Berglund
@Stuart Skinner
@Ilya Konovalov

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, 31 points); @Justin Kirkland (14 goals, 31 points).
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Bakersfield — @Seth Griffith (20 goals, 54 points); @Cooper Marody (16 goals, 41 points); @Raphael Lavoie (13 goals, 26 points); @Adam Cracknell (11 goals, 25 points); @James Hamblin (15 goals, 25 points).

Heating up

Rookie forward @Jakob Pelletier is doing his best to catch up to @Matthew Phillips in Stockton’s team scoring race.
The 20-year-old winger scored twice in Monday’s 3–1 win over the Bakersfield Condors to improve to 48 points (22 goals, 26 assists) in 48 games this season. He’s just two points back of Phillips, who leads the Heat with 50 points (21 goals, 29 assists) in 46 contests.
Pelletier now has seven goals and an assist in his last four games.

How to watch

Wednesday’s game in Stockton will be broadcast on AHL TV (subscription required) and on Spreaker (audio only), with the opening puck-drop set for 7:30 p.m. MT.
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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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