The Heat refuse to cool.
Another weekend, another road win, and three of a possible four points.
There was no head-hanging following a Friday night shootout loss, a game with a strong taste of 'let-one-get-away.'
Stockton, riding back-to-back wins, hosted a Bakersfield Condors squad that had dropped two-straight in the front end of a weekend home-and-home. The Heat jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the Friday night tilt, goals from sophomores Dillon Dube and Glenn Gawdin, but the visitors chipped away and eventually forced overtime. A scoreless extra period meant a shootout, and one that seemed to refuse to end.
Three times the Heat lead in the shooter-versus-goalie competition, three times Bakersfield responded. Finally, in the 11th round, it came to a close - Condors 3, Heat 2.
Within an hour of game's end, players from the Flames' AHL affiliate were on a bus and headed south seeking retribution on Bakersfield's home ice. No time to sulk.
"It'll be a good matchup tomorrow," said Heat coach Cail MacLean following the shootout loss, just the second setback of the season for Stockton. "The two teams are evenly matched, and obviously we're getting to know each other pretty well. We're looking forward to getting back at it and see if we can grab two points there and come home with a good weekend under our belts."
Saturday night was a different story - one in which the Condors got the early edge at 1-0, but Stockton answered with five of the next six goals to grab firm control of the game. Ryan Lomberg and Buddy Robinson led the way with a pair of goals each, Lomberg's coming on the man-advantage while Robinson claimed the first and final tallies of the evening for the Heat. Mason Morelli popped in his first goal of the season in his first game. Eetu Tuulola lit the lamp once again. The difference came on special teams, where Stockton went 3-for-6 when up a skater while limiting the Condors to just 1-for-8.
It was a workman-like performance, a never-in-doubt result that seems to be the norm these days for Stockton. Five wins, no losses on the road.
The win puts an exclamation point on the month of October for Stockton, the first portion of the schedule now in the books. The Heat look back at the month with a 6-1-0-1 mark, good for first in the AHL's Pacific Division.
A scorching start to the campaign.
- Stockton's 5-0 start on the road is the best ever for a Calgary AHL affiliate.
- As Robinson goes, so do the Heat: Stockton is 6-0 in games in which Robinson scores a goal, 0-1-0-1 in games in which he does not.
- Byron Froese, Brandon Davidson and Gawdin are tied for the team lead in scoring with eight points. Three players - Robinson, Dube and Matthew Phillips - have seven.
- Gawdin has an active four-game point streak (1g,3a) and has at least a point in five of Stockton's last six games (2g,5a).
- Artyom Zagidulin enters the week in second in the AHL for wins with five. He trails only Ontario's Cal Petersen, who has appeared in two more games.
- Dating back to last season, Morelli now has a goal in four-straight games after lighting the lamp in his season debut on Saturday.
- Adam Ruzicka recorded his first-career multi-point game on Saturday with two assists.
- The road team has won all four meetings between Stockton and Bakersfield this season.
THEY SAID IT:
"The penalty-kill was very good, bottom line. (Zagidulin) was very good in goal. Guys did a good job, especially late in the game, just getting in front and staying in shot lanes. The second period, they came up big for us. On the other side, obviously the power play was huge, too." - MacLean on the penalty-kill in Saturday's win.
"Goaltending is a big factor, honestly. We're getting some timely saves. Both Jon (Gillies) and (Artyom) Zagidulin have been good for us and contributing in there. A lot of credit to them. Overall, there's a good team commitment to what we're trying to accomplish. That belongs to the guys in the room. They're the ones producing it. They're the ones doing the work and putting in the effort for it. There's different ingredients, but the whole team concept is what's going to get you through a lot of tough times." - MacLean on what has brought Stockton's early road success.
"It's a different group, a different dynamic in there. Things are just clicking for us. They started clicking pretty early on. We've got a good group, everyone seems to be buying in. When everyone buys in and does the little things right out there, it's very positive." - Lomberg on what has helped Stockton to the hot start this season.
"(Zagidulin) was really good. (Gillies) was good last night, too, so we got two really good goalies in back-to-back games. Every game they're keeping us in it. We just need to play well in front of them." - Gawdin on the play of the netminders.
"We've just bought in to our systems. We've come into some buildings with good crowds, we know (the opponents are) going to come out fast. For us, it's staying composed, getting touches, getting in deep and going to work. Just getting to that rhythm, getting into the game is helping us." - Gawdin on what has made Stockton so strong on the road this season.