STOCKTON HEAT (9-9-1-0) at LAVAL ROCKET (15-4-1-1)
5 p.m. MT | 4 p.m. PT | BROADCAST: AHLTV
Points – Adam Ruzicka (17)
Goals – Adam Ruzicka/Luke Philp (8)
Points – Joseph Blandisi (18)
Goals – Joseph Blandisi (9)
PP – 16-for-65, 24.6% (4th)/PK – 54-for-70, 77.1% (25th)
PP – 13-for-64, 20.3% (8th)/PK – 65-for-79, 82.3% (13th)
1. HEAT INDEX
No time like the present to break out of a slump.
The Heat head to Montreal for a three-game set against the Laval Rocket, starting Friday at 5 p.m. MT, 4 p.m. PT at the Bell Centre. Stockton and Laval have met four times already this season, with the Rocket sweeping the set at the Scotiabank Saddledome in March.
Stockton is looking to find its footing after back-to-back setbacks against the Toronto Marlies, most recently a 5-2 decision on Wednesday at the Coca-Cola Coliseum. Luke Philp and Emilio Pettersen found the back of the net in the contest.
“We have to make sure we play the type of game where we manage pucks,” said Cail MacLean. “Laval is in your face. They’re the type of team that you have to understand that opportunities to get pucks behind them are important because they do come at you and they don’t give you a lot of space. We have to make sure we understand that right from the get-go.”
2. THIS, THAT, THE OTHER
THIS… Fast starts are always important, but for the Heat this season they’re proving to be pivotal. Through 19 games – nearly two-thirds of the abbreviated campaign – the Heat are 5-0-0 on the season when leading through 20 minutes compared to 4-5-0 when tied and 0-4-1 when trailing. Stockton is a perfect 7-0-0 when leading through two. THAT… The fourth-ranked power play unit in the AHL has been reeling coming into Friday’s game, with the Heat going just 3-for-27 on the man-advantage since the start of the last Laval series. This coincides with the departure of power play quarterback Alex Petrovic to the Calgary Flames. Stockton received only nine seconds of game time up a skater in two contests at Toronto but will look to capitalize against a Rocket squad who gave Stockton 20 power play opportunities in four games in the series at the Scotiabank Saddledome. THE OTHER… The Heat played the Rocket close in the first series, though they were unable to break into the win column against season trends on the year. Stockton owns a 4-3-1 record in one-goal games this season, 0-1-1 against the Rocket. The Heat also dropped a 4-2 decision in which the teams were tied through 40 minutes in the last series in Calgary.
3. PLAYERS TO WATCH
Heat – Luke Philp
Philp led the Heat with five points and two goals in the last series against the Rocket, and he has found the score sheet in eight of the last 10 games.
Rocket – Joseph Blandisi
Blandisi matched Philp’s output with five points in the previous series between the teams while staying busy with eight penalty minutes. He finished the four-game set a plus-6.
4. UPCOMING MILESTONES
- Byron Froese is two goals away from 100 in his AHL career
- Rob Hamilton is one assist away from 50 in his AHL career
- Luke Philp is three points away from 50 in his AHL career
- Glenn Gawdin is one goal away from 30 in the AHL
- Artyom Zagidulin is one win away from 20 in his AHL career
“I’m trying to be (consistent). That’s what you strive to be as a pro, you want to be consistent night-in and night-out. There’s obviously going to be nights where you’re not going be at your best, but you have to find ways to help the team and contribute, even if you’re not at your best. If things aren’t going my way offensively, I’m trying to find ways to contribute in other ways. It’s something I’ve been working on this year, to be more consistent.” – Luke Philp on his efforts this season