Congrats from Stockton, Mark!
While the Heat rebounded from a tough loss to the Manitoba Moose on Friday in San Diego with a big 6-3 drubbing of the San Diego Gulls, the buzz around the room was the excitement of Mark Jankowski scoring his first NHL goal the night before against the Detroit Red Wings.
When you combine that with two assists from Brett Kulak and Rasmus Andersson making his season debut for the Flames and going plus-2, it sent a message reverberating through the visiting dressing room at the Valley View Casino Center on Friday.
One of opportunity.
"You just have to prove yourself every day down here and those are guys that did that and they are fantastic players in this league and they deserve to be there," Morgan Klimchuk said after scoring the game-winning goal against the Gulls. "They are all unbelievable guys and really special players and I am really happy they are getting that chance because they deserve it."
Jankowski received plenty of texts after his big goal, many coming from his former Stockton teammates.
"I texted Janko afterwards and just said congrats man," Hunter Shinkaruk said. "You dream of doing that since you start putting on the skates. That was a good bounce for him and he is a good kid and good people always get good bounces."
For Shinkaruk and some of the others on the team, Jankowski's goal served as an opportunity to reflect on their own first goals in the NHL.
"It was in Anaheim," Shinkaruk said with a smile beaming from ear-to-ear. "It was a tip on the powerplay and it was a pretty exciting moment for me. I followed it up the next night with a goal in L.A. so it was a pretty special couple of days."
Kulak, named the Defensive Player of the Year by the Heat coaching staff in 2015-16, Jankowski - the Heat's all-time leading scorer - and Andersson - who was the top point getter on the Heat blueline at the time of his call-up - have made deep impacts in the AHL and are now seeing their hard work pay off at the next level.
And the trust that Flames bench boss Glen Gulutzan, along with GM Brad Treliving and the management group, has in the process of producing talent from the American League that can contribute at the NHL level will certainly motivate the Heat.
"The message is that if you believe in yourself and trust what the plan is for you, good things will happen," Heat coach Ryan Huska said. "For Janko, we couldn't be happier and his goal will be on our video on Monday morning because that first one was pretty greasy, just going to the net, and that's what we want our guys to do!"
Maybe the most unique part of Jankowski's goal that got the Heat fired up was who happened to get the primary assist on the tally. Having NHL legend Jaromir Jagr set up their first marker is a story only 12 NHL players can talk about and Jankowski is now one of them.
"When he's 50, when he's 60 or even when he's 26, it's going to be quite the tale to tell that Jaromir Jagr helped you get your first goal," Huska said. "What a special night for Janko and we're really proud of him and of course Rasmus and Brett for their contributions up there."
"Hopefully down the road, we can send a few more up there to help the Flames win."
- Stockton split two games last week, falling again to the Manitoba Moose at Stockton Arena by a 4-1 final on Wednesday, but bouncing back on the road in San Diego, capturing a 6-3 win over the Gulls on Friday night.
- A total of six players had multi-point games against the Gulls on Friday, with three players earning three-point nights: Hathaway (2-1-3), Mangiapane (1-2-3), Klimchuk (1-1-2), Tyler Wotherspoon (0-3-3), Marek Hrivik, and Colby Robak (0-2-2).
- Wotherspoon not only eclipsed both Andersson and Oliver Kylington for the Heat lead in points from defenceman with nine (1-8-9), but he's also tied-ninth for most points among defenceman.
- Both Mangiapane and Hathaway rank among the AHL leaders in points, with Mangiapane tied for second with 19 points (7-12-19) and Hathaway ranking seventh in the AHL with 16 points (9-7-16). Hathaway is tied for second in the AHL with nine goals and is tied for the league lead with a plus-13 rating.
- Three Heat players hit milestones on Friday in San Diego with Shinkaruk recording a goal in his 200th AHL game, Hathaway recording his 100th professional point and center Brett Findlay recording his 50th AHL point, a goal, that came just 27 seconds into Friday night's tilt, the fastest goal scored to start a game this season but a full 11-seconds slower than the Heat record scored by Brandon Bollig last year.
- Tanner Glass made his Heat debut on Friday night and dropped the mitts in his first outing.
- "We had a couple tough ones and some close games the last three games so we knew we had to get some goals early and we really focused a lot on the first five minutes of the game and try to bring it to them as good as we could." - Hathaway on the team's fast start on Friday
- "There are a lot of ups and downs playing hockey when it is your profession and it is a lot different than playing in junior because you have a lot of things to think about so it is just managing well and being a pro every single day and it has been a lot of fun too." - Shinkaruk on reaching 200 AHL games played on Friday in San Diego
- "[Friday Night] I knew where he was going and he knew where I was going and that's when you get to play the game fast and I think when you play the game fast especially with guys on the line that can skate like that you are going to have some success." - Klimchuk on developing chemistry with Hrivik
- "It was good for us to score some goals as we haven't had a lot in that department in the last little while. The game when it was 3-2 could have went either way and I think the fourth goal for us was a real important one." - Huska on the strong offensive night on Friday