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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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Heat rattle off pair of wins to close out homestand at Scotiabank Saddledome ... Ruzicka in fine form already ... Team now heads out for lengthy roadie

by BRANDON WEISS @WeissBrandon1 /

Down but never out.

These guys are a resilient bunch. 

After losing their first two games of the season to the Toronto Marlies, the Heat trailed just over a minute into the third tilt of the campaign, yet another tough bounce off a skate ending up in the back of the net for the snake-bitten and puck-luck-less team in its home away from home at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

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Heat continue to show their 'resilience', a hallmark of this season ... Czarnik becomes sixth Stockton player to hit 15 goals this campaign ... Battle for playoff position continues

by BRANDON WEISS @WeissBrandon1 /

The resilience. 

For this group, it's always been the resilience. 

With 16 games remaining in the regular season, 'must win' wasn't a term that statistically would apply, but anecdotally was very much in effect. The Heat had just dropped a pair on home ice in their last two outings, falling from a first-place tie in the Pacific Division to third and closer to an early drive home than a one seed in the Calder Cup Playoffs. 

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Heat just keep getting the job done ... Quine joins rare company ... Special teams coming up huge for Stockton

by BRANDON WEISS @WeissBrandon1 /

Austin Czarnik emerged from the locker-room Monday as the clock ticked down to game time.

He was missing his sweater, some pads, and his helmet was placed in his stall. 

Skates, socks, pants, and … Starbucks?

Iced coffee, black.

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Tough weekend for Heat ... Quine takes over points lead ... Stockton continues to get balanced scoring

by BRANDON WEISS @WeissBrandon1 /

The math doesn't seem to add up - two games, two fast starts, zero points.

The brain-teaser that was the weekend trip to Iowa saw a team that entered 16-1-2-2 when scoring first on the year go 0-2 after claiming early leads in back-to-back games, in a measuring stick series against one of the top teams in the AHL's Western Conference.

"Adversity is going to make us better," said Heat head coach Cail MacLean following Sunday's setback. "We did some good things. (Saturday) night we did some good things, didn't get the result that we needed. Tonight, good start, good physicality early in the game. We allowed it to get away from us."

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