In their second last game of their seven game road trip, the Stockton Heat take a loss in Henderson, Nevada against the Silver Knights. Their updated road trip record is now 3-3 and the next game will determine if they earn a majority of wins or losses on this stretch of games. They went the entire game without earning a lead for themselves and a pair of goals on their end was no match for the five pucks that made it past Dustin Wolf on Wednesday night.
Bad night for the GAA
Being arguably the best goaltenders in the AHL if not, one of the best, often comes with the statistics to back it up. What you can expect from Dustin Wolf on an average night is one or two goals on his end. If that. His overall GAA has been sitting below two for much of the season. Now a five-goal night? That is more of an anomaly for the young netminder. After his three starts, Wolf’s GAA on the season has creeped up to 2.07 with his save percentage now sitting at .895. From a straight statistical advantage, this was Wolf’s weakest game of the year. However, Henderson, much like their parent team, the Las Vegas Golden Knights, are a tough team to play against.
The Silver Knights also hold quite a strong place in the standings. They sit at third in the Pacific Division under the Heat then the Ontario Reign. They are 10 points behind the Heat in three fewer games played. They have been on quite a run as of late going 7-2-1-0 in their last 10 games.
The ones that went in
Just like the Heat’s last game, scoring started quite early. This time, they were on the receiving end of it. Henderson started things off just 34 seconds into the game with a shot top shelf that soared over the shoulder of Dustin Wolf.
The first period finished up with this goal being the lone one of the contest. In the second period, Justin Kirkland stepped in to answer back. Now Justin Kirkland might not be a name super familiar to the Flames fanbase, but he is one that has been finding his way on the scoresheet a lot of late. He’s scored four goals in the last seven games including his goal in Wednesday’s game. His goal came at the 6:03 mark in the second period. He broke off on a partial break and beat the Henderson goaltender five hole. The lone assist went to Greg Moro.
This would be the first and only time these teams would be tied up in this contest and it would only stay that way for a minute and 39 seconds before the Silver Knights struck again on a shot that went off the post and in.
Exactly seven minutes later, the Silver Knights scored another to further extend their lead to 3-1. This one was more of a predictable shot that slipped past Wolf glove side.
Unfortunately, the damage in the second period did not end there. At the 17:10 mark, Henderson scored one more time on the power play to end the second period 4-1. Despite the score, the Heat still held quite a strong shot advantage through 40 minutes of play with a 29-19 lead.
Stockton needed a big comeback in the third to at least earn a point and force overtime but their momentum was quickly put out with one more Henderson goal only 4:38 into the period. The Heat had a massive opportunity for some scoring late in the third with a trio of Henderson penalties but time would run out before the comeback was completely successful. The first whistle came at 18:21 into the period with another two Silver Knight skaters sent to the box at 18:55. Even the best teams in the world would struggle to come up with 4-5 goals in 1:05.
They did get one back, however, and that came off the stick of Matthew Phillips. This goal pulled him to the top of team scoring with 12 goals on the year. His goal at 19:50 was assisted by Nick DeSimone and Justin Kirkland.
The final score finished up at 5-2 with Dustin Wolf stopping 23/28 Henderson shots and Stockton scoring on two of their total 43 shots.
The team has been pretty quiet on the nature of Juuso Valimaki’s injury and a timeline estimate for his return. However, on his appearance on the Fan960 on Monday afternoon, Stockton head coach Mitch Love confirmed Valimaki is day-to-day and will require further evaluation from the team medical staff before they evaluate how to move forward.
In case Valimaki needs to be out for an extended period, the Heat added Nolan Valleau from the Orlando Solar Bears on a PTO earlier in the week.
Other roster announcements
The pre-game injury update was a little more lengthy than it has been in previous games. This one not only included Juuso Valimaki on the list but also four other players that would not be in the Henderson game.
Colton Poolman, Luke Philp and Martin Pospisil were announced to be in COVID protocol. This is a fairly recent change to the roster as all three played in their game on Sunday against the Ontario Reign.
Johannes Kinnvall was also activated off the injured reserve list. He has yet to play a game this year with the Heat or any team for that matter as he suffered an injury in the preseason. He was ready to go in this game but might not make his Heat debut until the weekend games.
The Heat have one game remaining before they finally get to return to their home at the Stockton Arena. Their lengthy road trip wraps up following the completion of their game against the Bakersfield Condors on Friday night at 8:00 p.m. MT.
If you’ve been itching to watch some Heat hockey but don’t want to pay for a streaming package just yet, clear your Saturday evening. The Heat’s return to home ice against the Tucson Roadrunners is included in AHL.tv’s free preview weekend. Catch this game for free on Saturday night at 8:00 p.m. MT.
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