Three nights after turning in his most impressive performance of the season, goaltender Jon Gillies was brought back down to earth by the San Antonio Rampage as the Stockton Heat were defeated by the Colorado Avalanche-affiliate 5-1 in Texas Saturday night.
Gillies followed up Wednesday night’s 36-save shutout of the Texas Stars by allowing five goals on 25 shots in the opening two periods. The effort led head coach Ryan Huska to pull the 21-year-old for the recently-reassigned NHL veteran Karri Ramo.
With the Finn in goal, the Heat were able to answer the five-goal deficit at the 9:57 mark in the third period on a Freddie Hamilton power-play goal that was assisted by Bill Arnold and Markus Granlund. The goal was reminiscent of Stockton’s lone tally on Wednesday, which also came via the stick of Hamilton on a power-play.
"We did some better things in the third period for sure," Huska said. "It’s just a matter of making sure we stay with things no matter if they’re good or bad. I think we changed our approach to the game because of what happened and that can’t happen."
Ramo’s first game in a Heat uniform was a quiet one as he saved all six shots produced by the Rampage in the third period. Despite the scoreline, Ramo was impressed by his new teammates’ chemistry and will to fight, especially in the latter stages of the contest.
"Our team stepped up and showed a lot of character there in the third," Ramo said. "It was 5-0, but no one gave up and we kept working hard. We forced some more turnovers and I told them not to be afraid to take some chances."
The Heat skaters responded with 13 shots, equaling the amount taken in the first two periods. Granlund led the Heat with five shots in the game while defenceman Kenney Morrison contributed with four. Morrison also finished minus-three and had two of Stockton’s season-high 17 penalty minutes.
2013 first round selection Morgan Klimchuk left the game with an injury in the second period. Huska said that he is awaiting evaluation to determine the left winger’s status.
The Heat (2-2-0) return to action next Friday evening as they travel to Southern California for back-to-back weekend contests against the AHL-affiliate of Anaheim Ducks, the San Diego Gulls.