On a night full of superb goaltending, the Stockton Heat doused any chance of late heroics from the visiting Manitoba Moose by defeating the Jets affiliate 2-1 via a shootout Friday at Stockton Arena.
Once again exemplifying clutch, Heat centre Derek Grant went top-shelf on Moose goaltender Eric Comrie in the second round of the shootout for the eventual game-winner. Grant, who saw a seven-game point streak snapped in the contest, was the only skater for either team to find the back of the net as Kevin Poulin denied all three Moose attempts to send the crowd home happy.
Right winger Emile Poirier broke the scoreless tie in the second period on a partial breakaway set up by a pass from Freddie Hamilton in the neutral zone.
"I got a good bounce coming into the zone and Hamilton made good play to me," Poirier said. "I just tried to find a hole to shoot to and made a nice shot for the goal."
It was just the seventh goal of the season, but the second in as many games for the highly touted Flames prospect. Head coach Ryan Huska credited Poirier’s speed for his improved play as of late.
"The expectation is for him to generate offence but you have to consistently work and put yourself in positions to score," Huska said. "He was inconsistent in the beginning portion of the year. What we’ve seen lately is that he’s using his speed to his advantage. It’s putting him in positions where he’s getting shots and now he’s starting to capitalize on those opportunities."
For much of the latter portion of the contest, Poirier’s notch appeared to be all the Heat would need due to the play of Poulin, who secured his fourth win of the season.
Making his third start in the past four games for Stockton, Poulin collected 30 saves with his only allowance coming less than five minutes left in regulation when he was unable to deny a Moose rebound.
Comrie had an even busier night at the other end of the ice, making 49 saves to garner third star honors.
The win improved Stockton’s record to 15-16-1-2. Although they remain in last place in the Pacific Division, the Heat sit closely behind the sixth place San Antonio Rampage (17-18-7-0).
It was Stockton’s first meeting of the season with Manitoba, the AHL affiliate of the Winnipeg Jets. The teams face off again this evening with a start time scheduled for 8:30 p.m. MT.