A couple of slow starts doomed the Heat early on in both Saturday and Sunday's games, but it'd be great finishes that would help the Heat get back into the win column.
On Saturday night in front of a sold out, Stockton Arena crowd, the Heat saw the Bakersfield Condors (Edmonton Oilers affiliate) get off to a quick 2-0 lead in the first 1:25.
"I guess we definitely weren't ready there," Andrew Mangiapane said. "We were just trying to catch up from the start. I think the first two periods it took us awhile to get our legs underneath us but in the third we had some energy and that's the way we should have started."
In spite of the slow start, it'd be Mangiapane and the Heat powerplay to get the Heat out of that early jam, as Morgan Klimchuk and Spencer Foo got the game tied up at the end of 20-minutes.
However, the Condors kept on scoring, and kept on killing off Heat powerplay chances. While the Heat went 20% on the powerplay on Saturday, the 10 chances they had on the man advantage, and the length of time they had with a two-man advantage was a let down for the team that worked hard on the comeback effort.
"We had a good start on the powerplay, but when it came down to it in the third period we needed to get something there and they made some good saves and played some solid defenCe," Spencer Foo said. "We gave it all out there, it is tough on those nights when the puck doesn't go in on the powerplay, but that is the way it goes sometimes."
"But we had a good third, and we want to build off that for (Sunday)."
That "tomorrow" came in the form of the season series finale with the San Diego Gulls (Anaheim Ducks affiliate), with the Heat looking to end the series off by getting back in the win column.
But again, another slow start made the Heat play catch up immediately. Just shy of 11 minutes into the contest, the Heat were down 3-0 and made a change between the pipes, bringing in ECHL call-up Ryan Faragher, who just a week earlier beat the Gulls, his former team.
That may have been the spark Stockton needed.
Clawing their way back into the game, the Heat found a way to eventually tie the game in the third period off a Brett Pollock breakaway goal after his penalty expired.
"I took the penalty and the guys killed it for me," Pollock said. "Klimchuk made a great play for me and after that I made a move. I was pretty fired up about that one so it feels good. Obviously down the stretch we need all the points we can get. We've had meetings about being down and going into the third, finding a way to win and get points."
Somehow, the Heat managed to do just that. Pollock's goal earned the Heat the point and Hunter Shinkaruk's game-winner in the sixth round of the shootout gave the Heat their third, third period comeback win in their last nine games, after going all season without one.
"We want to be a little more resilient than we have been throughout the season so for us to get those two points, it's huge," Pollock said. "We've had meetings about being down and going into the third, finding a way to win and get points."
"We want to try and get on a roll now."
- Andrew Mangiapane became the first Heat player to record back-to-back 20-goal seasons. He also set a career best with his 21st goal of the seasons on Sunday and has points in six-straight games (5-6-11)
- Right with Mangiapane is Spencer Foo, who is currently on a career-best, six-game point streak (4-3-7)
- Morgan Klimchuk has scored goals in three-straight games (4-1-5)
- Luke Gazdic suited up in his 500th professional game on Sunday in Stockton
- Stockton won the season series with the Gulls, going 5-2-0-1 in their eight meetings. All-time, the Heat are 18-9-0-3 against the Anaheim Ducks affiliate
- The Heat host the Ontario Reign on Wednesday, complete their season series with the Bakersfield Condors in Bako on Friday, and return home to host the Cleveland Monsters on Sunday
- Cody Goloubef returned to action in North America this weekend after his bronze medal performance with Team Canada in Pyeongchang
- "I don't put anything past our group any more to be honest. Whether it's a two spot or a three spot or it's on the road. Whatever the situation is, we're never out of the fight. It's unbelievable. It makes me really proud to watch and makes me proud to be a part of it because I just know whatever happens in the game, whatever the situation is, we're never out of it. The same thing happened tonight. We just chipped away and we knew we had some work to do, but the game was far from over, and once again, we pulled it off." - Gazdic on Sunday's comeback win
- "It's a milestone that I saw coming up and I saw in the summer that I might hit it this year. I think I'm a pretty humble person, but it's something that I really am super proud of. I was never a touted prospect or a guy that was supposed to have a long career and I've really done it the hard way and grinded it out with the help of a ton of coaches and teammates over the years and obviously friends and family. It's a special night for me and I'm happy that we could get the win. It makes it just that much better and I'm happy that the guys could pull through for me." - Gazdic on his 500th professional game
- "We just chipped away and we stuck with it. We didn't have the start we wanted again, but it's a good sign that we keep coming back and getting back in the game. It was a great team effort, a win tonight and that's what we need moving forward." - Mangiapane on the comeback Sunday vs. San Diego
- "There are a lot of good players in this league and you need depth to win games. I think there was a little extra motivation for tonight for Gazdic's 500th game in order to get that one for him." - Pollock on how the younger players have a big role on the team
- "I think when we got the two goals [in the first period] we knew it was a game. You go into the first intermission only down a goal when you could be down three, at that point we knew we could come back if we took care of the puck a little bit better than we did in the first period. The guys stuck with it and they found a way. It made for an exciting game for people that were in the building." - Head coach Ryan Huska on the comeback on Sunday
- "He is a good hockey player and he is a guy that we rely on in all situations. He is playing with confidence and he believes he can be a difference maker for us and he has been for the most part this season and that has been huge for us this season." - Huska on Mangiapane's play