The Stockton Heat hit the road to face the Tucson Roadrunners for the first time since their season-opening series. The last time these teams saw each other, it was a pair of close games. The Heat fell in overtime 1-0 in their first match-up of the year and came back the next night to beat the Roadrunners 3-2. This game was also kept pretty close as it needed to be decided in the shootout. The Roadrunners scored on two of their four shootout attempts and take this game over the Heat by a score of 5-4.

The Pelletier and Phillips Show

The great thing about the Heat’s depth this season is the ability to create a deadly top line even when some of your best guys get a call-up. Adam Ruzicka is still up with the Flames so to start this game, Jakob Pelletier and Matthew Phillips were centered by Glenn Gawdin. It didn’t take long for this line to wake up and produce in this game.
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The Tucson Roadrunners find the back of the net first but the Heat quickly answer back with a goal by Jakob Pelletier. 
59 seconds later, his linemate would go on to score his first goal of the night as well.
They would finish the first period ahead 2-1 as Phillips and Pelletier earn their eighth goals of the year, but it did not stop there. In the second period, both would score back to back to take back the lead and pull ahead of the Roadrunners 4-2. 
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The Roadrunners found some production themselves and score two more after Phillips’ and Pelletier’s second’s of the night. The second period finished all even at four with the Heat taking a strong 34-17 shot lead going into the second intermission. 
The third comes and goes with no changes to scoring and the Heat and Roadrunners look to decide things in overtime.

Free Hockey hat trick watch

As the Heat went into 3-on-3 for five minutes or less, the two players to watch were Matthew Phillips and Jakob Pelletier. Pelletier especially, with five game-winning goals on the year.
Overtime played out the same as the game had with some rushes going back and forth but both goalies kept things evened up and forced a shootout. Another chance for 11 and 49 to win it with an unofficial hat trick? You would have thought…
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The shootout went to four rounds. Stockton’s shooters were Justin Kirkland, Glenn Gawdin, Martin Pospisil and Luke Philp. Kirkland was the only one able to score on these attempts. That was a decision. A good one? I’m not so sure. The biggest and most obvious question is why wasn’t at least one, if not both Phillips and Pelletier chosen to shoot? If things were based solely on these players performance in shootouts in practice, then so be it. However, these two were literally the only two Heat players to beat Tucson goalie, Ivan Prosvetov in regulation. Wouldn’t you have the best odds with them? This might be one of those decisions you just gotta shake your head at, but in this scenario, it could have been the difference between winning the game or not. 
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The challenge they needed

The Heat haven’t faced much adversity this season. That is a good thing. The flip side of that is if and when they do face challenges in this season, they could go down the rabbit hole of an unfortunate stretch of games. While that is all hypothetical, the dynamic of a close game keeps them fresh and sharp. The Heat just came off a mid-week 10-1 win. It is easy to sit back on your heels and expect the games to essentially win themselves. This game proved how they are a beatable team and need to continue to work for their wins.
It goes without saying that the effort was most definitely there. Prosvetov was peppered with Heat shots and any lucky bounces or redirects could have won them this game in regulation. The Heat were past the 30 shot mark before the third period even started and by the end of the game, they outshot the Roadrunners 51-31. On paper, that game should have been the Heat’s, but that’s why the game is decided on the ice.
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Tomorrow’s game plan

The Heat have a quick turnaround and get another shot at the Roadrunners on Saturday evening. An announcement by the team confirms there were some delays regarding immigration paperwork that prevented Juuso Valimaki from participating in this game, but he is expected to be in the lineup for their second game of the series. He could also provide some offensive assistance in conjunction with his defensive presence. 
With Adam Werner playing in Friday’s game, Dustin Wolf is expected to be in net for the Heat on Saturday. They have been splitting these weekend series pretty consistently. If I’m the Roadrunners though, I’m playing Prosvetov two nights in a row due to the way he was able to keep the Heat controlled on Friday night. We will find out if the Heat are able to take one back in this series when they play at 7 p.m. MT on Saturday night.
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