The Stockton Heat kicked off their season in grandiose fashion tonight as they took on the Bakersfield Condors in the junior battle of Alberta. The Calgary Flames junior affiliate was looking to get some retribution for the major team’s 3-0 loss to the Edmonton Oilers. Fortunately for Flames and Heat fans, the team didn’t disappoint.
The game started off incredibly tremulous for the Heat. Bakersfield carried the play for the vast majority of the period, consistently peppering Jon Gillies with shot after shot after shot. At one point in time, shots were 13 to two in favour of the Condors, and with that ratio one would expect them to carry the lead into the second period. fortunately for the Flames, Gillies was able to stand on his head for the entirety of the period as he shut the Condors down to keep the Heat alive. Shots in the first period were 15 to four in favour of Bakersfield.
The second period didn’t start off any better for Stockton. The Condors pushed play for the majority of the first half of the period and shots were 23 to five by the ten minute mark. The Heat managed a power play at around 9:33 through the first though and managed to capitalize relatively quickly. The Heat got a shot on net and Morgan Klimchuk got an assist off to Andrew Mangiapane who managed to put Stockon up one to nothing 10:04 into the second.
The lead would not last long. The Oilers managed to gain the puck in the Flames zone and establish play. Caleb Jones had the puck and got it to Jesse Puljujarvi behind the net as he carried it to the half boards side around the slot area. Puljujarvi then got the puck over to Ethan Bear in the centre of the point; he fired a shot that had some eyes to it as it managed to beat Gillies up high blocker side. Shots were 26 to nine at this point, however, so Gillies was more than holding his own.
The Heat were narrowing the shot gap when they took a minor penalty. Fortunately the Condors power play was a mess the entire night and it was Stockton that managed to capitalize. A Condors shot ricocheted off the back boards. A failed pinch by the defense lead to the puck at the Heat’s own blue line and Mark Jankowski handled the rest as he put it home on the two-on-one to put up what would eventually serve as the game winning goal 17:19 into the period.
Shots were 28 to 16 for the Condors entering the third, but they still trailed. One would have liked to see the Heat try and push the play a bit more, but Bakersfield still had some trouble getting shots off. Fortunately some sloppy play by the Condors lead to yet another Heat goal. Garnet Hathaway swiped the puck at the Bakersfield blue line, deked around Jones, and fired off a backhander in what was a pretty nifty move. He didn’t manage to score, but Jankowski was able to fire home the rebound with just 10:04 to play.
That goal basically sucked all of the life out of Bakersfield. Shots were 36 to 18 at that point. They would manage just six more shots for the rest of the contest. The Condors did eventually empty their net, but got nothing going out of it. Tyler Wotherspoon recovered the puck and flipped it out to Hathaway who may or may not have been cherry picking a bit. He put the puck home with less than a second left as the Heat defeated the Condors by a final of four to one.
FIRST STAR - Jon Gillies
SECOND STAR - Mark Jankowski
THIRD STAR - Garnet Hathaway