Season Record: 6-2-0 (.750)
Goals: Adam Ruzicka (7)
Assists: Matthew Phillips (9)
Points: Adam Ruzicka (13)
Goalies: Garret Sparks (3-1-0, 2.65 GAA, .916 Sv%), Artyom Zagidulin (1-0-0, 4.95 GAA, .872 Sv%)
Weekly Summary: (4-0-0)
March 3 Heat 5 @ Senators 1
March 5 Heat 5 @ Marlies 1
March 6 Heat 4 @ Marlies 3
March 8 Heat 6 @ Moose 5 (OT)
In the words of the late Mac Miller, “everything is jazz, and I’m Stockton”. And jazz indeed it is, as the Calgary Flames affiliate have started to establish themselves as a true powerhouse. Week #2 for the Heat saw them post a perfect 4-0 record against 3 different opponents, and stretch their win streak to 6, after losing the first two games of the season.
Their .750 win percentage has shot them to the top of the Canadian division, and they’ve posted wins against every other squad, except Laval whom they still have yet to play. It also puts them in a tie for third place in the entire AHL.
After all 4 of the first games of the season were against the Toronto Marlies in the Scotiabank Saddledome, the Heat hit the road for the first time, as well as faced a new opponent in the Belleville Senators. With Dustin Wolf returning to the WHL, the crease was all Garret Sparks’ and he was absolutely phenomenal, stopping 38 of 39 shots. However it was the newly formed top line that stole the show (all week).
With his AHL stint soon coming to a close, Connor Zary decided to play even better than he already had been. He potted his first career AHL goal with a wicked snipe over Filip Gustavsson’s blocker, before taking another beautiful dish from Adam Ruzicka and burying a slick move in close for his second goal in 10 minutes. Justin Kirkland and Ruzicka added another each, and the Zary-Ruzicka-Phillips line finished the night with 8 points combined for the 4-1 win.
The domination continued over the Toronto Marlies over the next two games, as the Heat followed up last week’s 8-1 drubbing with a 5-1 smacking. Sparks was tested much less but superb again, and that same ZRP line put up another 7 points. Connor Mackey scored his first career AHL goal to cap the scoring off late in the third.
The second half of the back-to-back in Toronto wasn’t quite as smooth. Stockton fell behind 3-2, before Zac Leslie skated in from the point and beamed a shot under Matt D’Agostini’s blocker to even the affair with nary 3 minutes remaining. The Captain would prove to be the hero of the night however, as Alex Petrovic sent a deflected shot past the Marlies netminder with 1:31 remaining in regulation to earn yet another win.
Finally, the Heat wrapped the week up yesterday against the Manitoba Moose in dramatic fashion. Stockton would continuously go up on the Moose, and every single time the pesky Manitoba squad would battle back. The Heat were up 3-1, 4-3, and 5-4, before an old face ended the first extended game of the season. Glenn Gawdin, fresh off his NHL stint with the Flames, wired a one-timed slapshot past Mikhail Berdin to cap a 2 point night both for him, and more importantly, the team. Martin Pospisil is playing just as well as his fellow Slovakian Ruzicka, and potted 2 goals and an assist in this one.
Seriously, this team is really fun, and really good.
Glenn Gawdin (1-2-3) in 4 GP
He’s quickly getting his game back to where we’ve seen him play after playing practically no time at all with the Flames.
Emilio Pettersen (3-4-7) in 8 GP
Has an absolutely lethal shot and his development path thus far has been better than anyone could have predicted. The struggle typically for NCAA players is the longevity of pro season, so his primary focus has to be consistency over a favourably short season for a rookie.
Matthew Phillips (2-9-11) in 8 GP
It’ll be a hard decision between him and Ruzicka for the next call-up. The eyes in the back of this guy’s head see everything, and he’s not too shabby at burying the puck when he has to as well. He seems to be able to generate chemistry with just about anyone. Check out his hands and deception on the one-timer below.
Luke Philp (2-4-6) in 8 GP
The workhorse has cooled off goal-wise but is hanging around just as respectably offensively as his teammates.
Martin Pospisil (4-4-8) in 8 GP
The offensive flourishing of this physically punishing beast has been a sight to behold. He finish ability in tight is elite, and not many guys are gonna be able to move him from in front of the net. It’s evident how huge his games in Europe improved his play during the break.
Slick deflection from 24 in his first pro multi-goal game! pic.twitter.com/a4mX6oZW9H— Stockton Heat (Now in Celsius) (@AHLHeat) March 9, 2021
Adam Ruzicka (7-5-12) in 8 GP
Just, wow. His 5 game point streak ended against Manitoba, but all 12 of those points came in those 5 games. Consistency plagued him at times in the OHL, and losing Zary may hurt his production, but as of now all signs point to this guy being a blue-chip prospect who’s on the verge of an NHL debut. He’s a shot machine, but it was his playmaking ability that caught me off guard in the more recent games.
Eetu Tuulola (1-1-2) in 8 GP
He’s been playing much better, and notched his first goal and assist of the season in back to back games.
Connor Zary (3-4-7) in 8 GP
It’s a topic that’s come to light primarily due to Seth Jarvis’s impressive AHL debut, but Connor Zary is just as crucial of example of a player who needs to be in the AHL, but is gonna be forced to return to junior. Cail MacLean promoted Zary to the top Ruzicka/Phillips line, and well, you’ve read all the stuff above. Zary had 2 assists through the first 4 contests of the season, but exploded for 3 goals and 2 assists over 4 games this week, including his first AHL goals. Watch the highlights below and tell me they don’t remind you of #19’s 2 goals after the 9 game threshold his rookie year (recap video underneath). He’ll return to Kamloops after this road trip.
Dmitry Zavgorodniy (0-0-0) in 8 GP
The young Russian looks a little lost, but he’ll start to get more ice and more opportunities as the roster will shift over the coming days.
CJ Lerby (0-4-4) in 8 GP
His skating has been good his entire tenure thus far, but his offensive ability and shot selection has very evidently reared it’s head recently. Check out his feet and ability to get a shot through traffic.
It's a Marty Party! pic.twitter.com/sTZcUFeCx1— Stockton Heat (Now in Celsius) (@AHLHeat) March 9, 2021
Connor Mackey (1-4-5) in 8 GP
This is clearly the top defensive prospect the Flames have, and he forms a ruthless top pairing with Alex Petrovic. His confidence and feet are at all time highs, and will look like an even that much better player for his next NHL stint.
Colton Poolman (0-2-2) in 8 GP
Like Yelesin below, he plays a quiet, steady game but is very good with his first pass and zone entries.
Alexander Yelesin (0-1-1) in 7 GP
The big physical Russian just goes out and plays a solid if unassuming game every single night.
Artyom Zagidulin (1-0-0, 4.95 GAA .872 Sv%)
Zag didn’t look good during his stint in Russia, didn’t look particularly good in his first NHL action, and wasn’t great in his AHL debut Monday. Hopefully some consistency in his locale will improve his confidence, but he’ll have to out battle a very solid Garret Sparks for the starting role.
Next Game: March 10th @ Manitoba
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