When the calendar flips to November, the focus turns to raising awareness and funds during Hockey Fights Cancer.
Whether it be special jerseys worn by teams, 'Movember' mustaches or 'No Shave November' beards grown by players, every team across the hockey community will do their best to make a sizeable donation to help those impacted by the disease.
The Stockton Heat hosted Hockey Fights Cancer on Saturday night in front of a packed house, raising money through the auction of special jerseys, autographed hockey pucks, and silent auction tables.
And for some on the Heat, the night had profound meaning.
"It's a special night for me," Heat defenceman Adam Ollas Mattsson said. "Everyone has been touched by cancer in some way and I guess I'm one of the guys that have been touched by cancer a little more than some of the others on the team."
Ollas Mattsson's mother was a three-year survivor of liver cancer and sadly, passed away five years ago.
"I try to think about her on games like this because of the focus on cancer," Ollas Mattsson said. "It does motivate me more than just a regular game."
Ollas Mattsson has gotten into six of the 11 games for the Heat this season, including both games this past weekend. He's a plus-1 on the year, has taken just one minor penalty and with the 6-foot-5 defender in the lineup, the Heat are 5-1-0 and have shutout an opponent three times.
"We have a lot of defencemen here so we're rolling a little back and forth, so I just want to try and develop and play as much as I can," Ollas Mattsson said. "You don't see as much hockey back home in Europe so there are more games to try and get yourself noticed, and I think there are a lot more eyes on you here in Stockton."
"I want those eyes to see the improvements I've made to my game."
The adjustment from playing pro in the Swedish Hockey League, where time and space is in abundance with the larger ice surface, to the smaller ice in North America that requires players to think on their feet is always a process for every European player.
"I like the North American game," Ollas Mattsson said. "We're more physical over here and you have to think faster, and I think my game benefits from being in North America. Sure there are some things you're used to, so there are still things I need to change, but the transition has been pretty good so far."
With some of the Flames brass in town to take in Stockton's weekend series against the Manitoba Moose and the Texas Stars, eyes were once again on the Heat defenceman.
Ollas Mattsson found himself on a pairing with Tyler Wotherspoon during Saturday's 1-0 shutout win, which saw the duoact as the shutdown defencemen, consistently paired up against one of the two top lines of the Texas Stars.
Shutdown is what they did, and for Ollas Mattsson it not only showcased some of the improvements he's made to those who will eventually determine if he should receive an Entry-Level Contract from the club that drafted him, but also had a deeper meaning for him given his mother's passing from the disease.
"It hit me during the national anthem," Ollas Mattsson explained. "She motivates me because I want to make her proud and that motivation is there to this day, for me to be a better player and a better person."
"It was special to get the win for her."
- Stockton went 1-1-0 last week, seeing their five-game points streak end on Friday to the Manitoba Moose, but bounced back for the 1-0 win over the Texas Stars on Saturday.
- Andrew Mangiapane extended his points streak to 10-games with his sixth goal of the season (6-10-16) in Friday's loss. It ties Mark Jankowski for the longest point streak in Stockton Heat team history (Jankowski had five goals and seven assists for 12 points from March 12 to April 5, 2017). Unfortunately, Mangiapane's streak would be snapped on Saturday's win over the Stars.
- David Rittich made 32-saves for his second shutout of the season on Saturday against Texas. Rittich is one of three AHL goalies to have two shutouts (leads the AHL). He also ranks in the Top-10 with a 2.00 goals-against-average and a .937 save-percentage.
- The Heat lead the AHL with three shutouts through their first 11 games of the season, with Rittich's pair of shutout wins over Texas on Saturday and the Grand Rapids Griffins back on Oct. 14, going along with Jon Gillies shutout victory over the Bakersfield Condors last week.
- Hard to believe but Garnet Hathaway scorethe first game-winning goal of his pro career on Saturday. Hathaway, who scored his first NHL goal against the Detroit Red Wings last season, watched his 42nd career AHL goal beat the Texas Stars.
- Stockton is now 10-1-1-1 all-time against the Texas Stars including a 6-0-1-0 record at Stockton Arena against the Dallas Stars AHL affiliate
- "Five-on-five for the most part I thought we were pretty good, and we have been for the majority of the early season. When we play direct and we play fast, we are a hard team to play against and that is the way we want to be. Our challenge is to make sure we are five-on-five a little bit more often." - Coach Ryan Huska on liking his team's five-on-five play.
- "You look at consistency and you need people to produce and you hope guys understand the importance of consistency and when you are at 10 games in-a-row with a point, I guess you could say that is pretty consistent. He is also doing it the right way, he is working hard and has been good in his own zone and the points are coming. We are happy for him and we hope he continues his hot streak." - Huska on Mangiapane's point streak.
- "I don't know if I can remember the last minute because it was so crazy, shot after shot. My teammates played very well in our zone and they helped me so much with blocked shots and clearing the zone." -Rittich on the hectic ending during Saturday's win.
- "We learned [Friday] night that you can't give up so many 'Grade-A' chances and expect to win and we got some bad bounces [Friday] night, but we cleaned that up [on Saturday]." - Hathaway on improving from Friday to Saturday.