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Hathaway focused on helping Stockton with his experience and leadership

by DUSTIN COWELL @dustin_cowell /

The dream of every AHL player is to get that phone call telling them to pack their bags and hop on the first flight to wherever the big club is playing the next night.

What's not so revered is the other phone call.

The one that tells you you're going back to the AHL.

Current Stockton Heat forward Garnet Hathaway went through just that two weeks ago when Calgary assigned him back to Stockton after spending just over three months with the Flames.

"I've been here before - I've had that sent down feeling and I don't wish it upon anybody," Hathaway admitted. "At the same time, you have to stay positive with it.

"This is time to get more ice time and touch the puck more."

While there is no doubt that the undrafted winger wants to be in Calgary during the playoff push, he understands that top-six minutes and playing in every situation in Stockton is an opportunity to fine tune his game.

On the other hand, Hathaway knows that his role on the ice is defined and he has to bring that same in-your-face style that got him called up in early November every night while he's in Stockton.

"It's lets you work on your game a little more," Hathaway explained. "I still need to play the role I've played both here and in Calgary.

"I wasn't called up in the first place as a points guy.

"I just need to bear down and keep doing the things that got me up there in the first place."

Hathaway is also counted on as a part of the leadership group in Stockton - a role that he's taken on the last two seasons with the Heat.

For the 25-year-old, it's a role he welcomes and tries to use his experience at the NHL level to help generate some energy and some wins in the AHL.

"I just try to lead on the ice as well as I can," said Hathaway. "This is a real tight-knit group here and everyone gets along great.

"It's been a tough stretch, but I think maybe a new face and a couple new words on the bench can be good sometimes."

That "tough stretch" Hathaway mentions refers to a recent spell of 10-straight games the Heat went without a win.

However, with the help of Hathaway's presence in the lineup Stockton has now collected wins in four of their last six games since their alternate captain returned.

While it might be too early to tell if the Heat have turned it around completely, there is no doubt that having the energy Hathaway brings injected back into the lineup every night has made Stockton a better team.

As for Hathaway, he's trying not to focus too much on anything other than playing his game and helping Stockton collect wins.

"Right now, I'm focused on winning games," Hathaway said. "We need to string together some wins here.

"All the guys in that room want to win and I'm just trying to do everything I can to help."


Record: 2-1-0-0; Overall: 23-23-4-1 … F Mark Jankowski scored brought his goal total to 20 this past Saturday, capping off a week in which he scored three goals in total … G David Rittich stayed hot Saturday with 43 saves on the 45 shots he faced in a win over San Jose … G Jon Gillies stopped 34 of the 36 shots he faced Wednesday night in Stockton in a win over Ontario - his 13th win this season … The Heat now sit in sixth place in the Pacific Division and are just .049 points-percentage back of the final playoff seed in the Pacific.



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