The Stockton Heat were at home again tonight after their four to one shellacking of the Bakersfield Condors to take on the San Jose Barracudas. A win tonight would keep the team undefeated through two games and would serve as a nice tone setter for the season. Alas, that wasn't meant to be.
The game started off well enough. Tyler Wotherspoon got the puck up to Garnet Hathaway who then passed the puck over to Andrew Mangiapane on the far side circle. Mangiapane fired from there to put the Heat up one to nothing as the beat Troy Grosenick glove side 7:46 into the first period. Grosenick's positioning on the save was questionable-at-best and there was more than enough space for Mangiapane to hammer it home.
Stockton was playing San Jose pretty evenly and had the lead up until 17:25 in the period. The Heat played some absolutely wretched defense as Daniel Bergman skated directly into the slot. Julius Bergman feathered the pass over to him from the near side circle and he was able to put it away little resistance from Jon Gillies. Brandon Mashinter picked up the secondary assist.
The tie would only last 20 seconds. Mark Jankowski won the faceoff out to Mangiapane who found a virtually-uncovered Hathaway for the breakaway. Hathaway made Grosenick look foolish to put the Heat up two to one 17:45 into the first.
Shots were eight all entering the second and the Heat quickly went to work. Rasmus Andersonson found Jankowski who caught the Barracudas defense napping. Jankowski sent the puck over to Mangiapane. Mangiapane then made a beautiful hesitation move and the slid the puck back over to Jankowski for an uncontested goal on the power play just 1:59 into the second to put the heat up three to nothing.
Stockton had played San Jose pretty evenly when things started to fall apart for Gillies. Michael Brodzinski fired a shot from the right point which only served to keep the puck in the zone, but poor rebound control by Gillies lead to the puck bouncing directly in the direction of O'Regan who threw it past him glove side with 8:36 remaining in the period. Rudolfs Balcers picked up the secondary assist.
The Heat were on the penalty kill and made a sloppy attempt to clear the zone. It was picked up by Filip Sandberg who fired it from the high slot area. Gillies made the save, but rebound control once again plagued him. O'Regan once again managed to recover the puck and while Gillies made the initial save, Balcers was there to pick it up and fling it into the net completely uncontested on the near side 13:15 into the second.
The Flames junior club held the shot advantage at 18-16 heading into the third, but the score was tied at three-all. It would remain that way until 5:07 into the period when some abysmal defense by the Heat's Emile Poirier and Colby Robak lead to Marcus Sorensen getting wide open in the slot. Adam Helewka delivered the puck on over to him which allowed Sorensen to make a nifty deke on Gillies as he fired it in backhanded.
The Heat had squandered their two goal lead and now trailed by one, but they quickly went back to work. Morgan Klimchuk won an offensive zone draw back to Wotherspoon. Wotherspoon sent it to the opposite side of the blue line for one of Andersson's patented heavy one timers. Grosenick made the save, but left a juicy rebound. Joseph Cramarossa was supposed to be covered by Brandon Bollig, but he was nowhere to be found as the puck landed right on his stick resulting in an easy put-back goal tying the game 5:43 into the third.
Stockton was the beneficiary of a power play with 6:24 remaining in the third, but it would be San Jose who would capitalize. Oliver Kylington made one of the ugliest passes possible directly to the Barracuda's Manuel Wiederer resulting in a completely unopposed breakaway. Wiederer had way too much speed going in for Gillies to handle as he put home the shorthanded goal and gave them a five to four lead.
The Heat emptied out their net with about 1:40 left in the game looking to even the score. Unfortunately Nick Desimone was able to shovel the puck out of the zone over to Sorensen. Sorensen then flipped the puck over to Helewka who wristed it home from the near side point to put the Sharks up six to four.
Mangiapane, Jankowski, and Hathaway looked phenomenal in this one. Unfortunately they alone were not enough to overcome the bad defense and questionable rebound control by Gillies who was playing both games of a back-to-back. They'll have plenty of time to think about this one as they don't play again until next Saturday when they take on the visiting Calder Cup champions in the Grand Rapids Griffins.
FIRST STAR - Daniel O’Regan
SECOND STAR - Andrew Mangiapane
THIRD STAR - Rudolfs Balcers