The Stockton Heat’s luck continued on Friday night when they pulled together an overtime win against the Colorado Eagles after falling behind 2-0 early in this game. This weekend series kicked off in a similar fashion to their last match-up against the Eagles with the game finishing at a 3-2 victory in overtime. The last time these two played, the Eagles took the win in the back half of the series. Saturday’s game will show if this back-to-back is meant to deliver the same results. 

Working from behind

The Heat have played pretty even or ahead in many of their games this season. Opposing goals are followed up with a tally from a Heat skater in a timely fashion or they occur so late in the game, the Heat are far beyond having to make up any ground. This game took a little extra time to get things going on the Stockton production side of things.
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Colorado came at them quick with their opening goal taking place just 1:35 into the game. They would go on to score another at the 6:09 mark putting the Heat at a two-goal deficit to go into the first intermission. 
In the late minutes of the second period, the Heat got their third power play of the night and were able to capitalize on it. Eetu Tuulola scored his fourth of the year in the dying seconds of the power play at the 17:50 mark. Assists went to Juuso Valimaki and Connor Zary. 
They needed another one to stay in this game and they found it just past the midway mark of the third period with an unassisted goal by Ilya Solovyov. This was Solovyov’s third goal of the year as he had just scored his first and second goals in the AHL last weekend in Tucson. 
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Dustin Wolf held it down for the remainder of the third and into overtime to once again give his team an opportunity to win. The shots he faced through the game seemed to accurately reflect the score. He saw 14 Eagles shots in the first, seven in the second and third and none in the third. His 26 save effort was enough to not only secure a point in regulation but to pick up an additional one for the win. 
The game-winner came off the stick of Andy Welinski. Assists went to Connor Zary (for a two-assist night) and Jakob Pelletier. This goal also came on the power play.
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Stockton would go 2 for 6 on the man-advantage on Friday and 3 for 3 on the penalty kill. They finished with not only the score advantage but also a shot advantage of 35-28.

The magic of the top line

The Heat’s top line has had an incredible season to date. Some call-ups and lineup shuffling have caused it to look a little different at times but the most consistent pieces include Matthew Phillips and Jakob Pelletier. These two have been a little quieter in recent games. Their run of multi-point games in late November-early December has appeared to die down a bit. That does not mean they are not producing.
Jakob Pelletier went his longest stretch of games this season without making it to the scoresheet prior to this game. How long was it? Two games… The expectations are high for the Heat rookie but two games without a point is not something fans should be concerned about. In Friday’s tilt against the Eagles, Pelletier snapped his point drought (if you want to call it that), with an assist on Andy Welinski’s game-winner in overtime. 
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Matthew Phillips is also in a similar spot. Instead, he currently sits at two games without a point. This is also his longest stretch of games this season without a point. Also, not an area of concern as he and his linemates have overtaken scoring in plenty of games this season and if the Heat want to be a Calder Cup contender with the guys they have this year, they’ll need scoring out of all their lines to be successful. 

Switching the rotation?

The Heat have a quick turnaround with the Eagles as they will face them again Saturday night. The trend this year has been to have Adam Werner and Dustin Wolf split the back-to-back series. However, Werner hasn’t looked too great as of late with his last three starts having a goals against average of 3.69, 5.0, and 5.18. Not only that, the Eagles are a tough team for the Heat. If there was a weekend to give Wolf back-to-back starts, this is it. The Heat need to stay competitive in this Eagles series and Dustin Wolf gives them the best shot.
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Lineups will be announced to confirm or deny this theory just prior to puck drop on Saturday for their Teddy Bear Toss game at 7 p.m. MT.

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