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Heat and Reign's two-game battle for top spot in the division lived up to billing

by BRANDON WEISS @WeissBrandon1 /

They're all important. 

Some just seem to weigh heavier.

The Stockton Heat hit the road for a two-game set against the Ontario Reign, a clash of the top two teams in the AHL's Pacific Division. Stockton entered the twin bill leading the Western Conference in point percentage, Ontario leading in point total. The Heat were bolstered by one of the top defensive units in the AHL, the Reign guided by the highest-flying offense in the league.

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Surging Heat to face Ontario Reign in a Sunday-Monday twin-bill battle of the Pacific Division's top two teams

by BRANDON WEISS @WeissBrandon1 /

There are two ways to get into the Stockton Heat dressing room - one from the hall that leads to the gym and meeting room, one that leads to the ice. 

Inscribed on the former, the entrance every player and coach passes through on the way in to work, is "If you want something you've never had, you have to do something you've never done."

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Heat are following in footsteps of Flames with heckuva start to the new season

by BRANDON WEISS @WeissBrandon1 /

The weather may be cooling as the calendar flips to November, but the Stockton Heat remain red hot.

The club rattled off its fourth consecutive win Saturday, a 6-3 victory over the visiting Colorado Eagles, the home team paced by a hat-trick from Adam Ruzicka and multi-point outings from Glenn Gawdin, Jakob Pelletier and Nick DeSimone. 

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Rookies shine in Heat's first two games of the season

by BRANDON WEISS @WeissBrandon1 /

The kids, it turns out, are quite alright.

The goal in the AHL, just a step away from hockey's pinnacle, is somewhat different than the NHL. 

The long-term process is the focus - come into the league, learn to be a pro, develop successful habits, compete and win. A Calder Cup is the reward, but bringing the next wave of talent to Calgary is the overall drive. 

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Heat set to finish regular season with five-game road set against Manitoba Moose

by BRANDON WEISS @WeissBrandon1 /

Around the bend and into the home stretch, the Heat will look to finish strong.

With the playoff format undetermined and an unbalanced schedule approaching its conclusion, the Stockton will head to Winnipeg for a five-game series that will punctuate a 30-game regular season.

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Win over Rocket a victory on many levels ... Byron Froese notches game-winner ... Stockton with eight days between games

by BRANDON WEISS @WeissBrandon1 /

Must-win games usually depend on playoff standing.

For the Stockton Heat, in a year like no other, Tuesday's must-win meant peace of mind.

There's no other way to put it - the Heat were reeling. They found themselves on the short end of the stick in four straight and headed into the regular-season finale against Laval yet to beat the Rocket.

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Heat learning on the fly ... Connor Mackey leads all AHL rookie d-men in scoring with 11 points ... Luke Philp red-hot right now

by BRANDON WEISS @WeissBrandon1 /

The takeaway from a tough home series with Laval was to learn from the experience of scrapping against a top team, but falling just short. 

It's a short sample size since, but in a 30-game season everything has to move quickly.

"There's been some good things," said Cail MacLean about the past three games, a two-game split at Belleville followed by a back-and-forth battle with Toronto. "We're having some trouble putting it all together consistently, but I like the idea that we learned some things and have applied them since the Laval series."

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It's been quite the crazy run to start the season but the Heat are grateful to be back playing - and racking up wins!

by BRANDON WEISS @WeissBrandon1 /

Don't blink, there's no time.

As the Stockton Heat packed their bags and returned to their home-away-from-home at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Saturday, the Flames' farm club finally had a chance to exhale. 

Saturday's contest, which snapped a team-record, eight-game win streak that vaulted the Heat to the top of the standings in the AHL's Canadian Division, punctuated a bag skate of a start to the 2020-21 schedule that included 11 games in the first 21 days of the season, coming against three opponents in four cities.

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Resilient Heat rising to the challenge, game-in and game-out ... Ruzicka and Phillips had red-hot runs ... Special teams earning their stripes

by BRANDON WEISS @WeissBrandon1 /

Sometimes cruising down the freeway is nice. Other times it's about off-roading.

It's in that rocky terrain where you see exactly what you have behind the wheel.

For the Stockton Heat, riding high on a team-record, six-game win streak following Monday's 6-5 barn-burner against the Manitoba Moose, Cail MacLean is well aware now that his team can be tested and come through.

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Connor Zary nets two goals - including first as a pro - while Adam Ruzicka continues torrid scoring pace as Heat beat Senators

by BRANDON WEISS @WeissBrandon1 /

Two goals and an assist from rookie Connor Zary and a third-straight, three-point outing from forward Adam Ruzicka powered the Stockton Heat (3-2-0-0) to their third consecutive win, beating Belleville Senators (1-4-0-0) 4-1 Wednesday at the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa.

Three of Stockton's goals came from the Zary-Ruzicka-Matthew Phillips line, extending each player's respective scoring streak to three games.

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