TONIGHT’S MATCHUP: Stockton Heat vs. Chicago Wolves
SERIES: Game 3; STK Trails 2-0
LOCATION: Stockton Arena | Stockton, Calif.
TIME: 6:30 p.m. PDT
TUNE IN: Today’s game can be streamed on AHLTV, and the radio call is available on Fox Sports Radio 1280 or online via Spreaker.
Media Game Notes: STK | CHI | AHL
A tough start and tougher finish for the Stockton Heat proved to be the difference in Game Two of the Western Conference Finals, the visiting team carrying the play for much of the time in between before Josh Leivo’s strike in the final minute of regulation helped the Chicago Wolves escape with a 3-2 win Monday at Allstate Arena. Eetu Tuulola and Justin Kirkland found the back of the net for Stockton, who now return home looking to trim the series deficit in half.
SCORING IN BULK
Justin Kirkland extended his scoring streak to seven games with his second period snipe in Monday’s contest, a goal that gave the Heat a 2-1 lead. Kirkland has nine points and six goals in that stretch, both figures leading the Heat in the postseason and each setting a team record for a single playoff.
Eetu Tuulola has goals in back-to-back games after his shorthanded goal Monday tied the game at one in the opening frame. It was the first shorthanded marker conceded by the Chicago Wolves during the Calder Cup Playoffs and the second scored by the Heat through nine games, first since Jakob Pelletier’s strike in the playoff opener against Bakersfield.
Both games of the Western Conference Finals have been decided by the slimmest of margins, a pair of one-goal games that came down to overtime and the final 18 seconds of regulation, respectively. Stockton is now 3-3 in the playoffs in games decided by one goal, a contrast from the regular season in which the Heat owned a record of 18-4-5-2 in one-goal games.
A change of scenery will be welcome for the Heat, who come into Wednesday’s game a perfect 4-0 at Stockton Arena in the playoffs. The Heat have outscored the opposition 12-3 at Stockton Arena in those four games, including a pair of shutout victories, and Stockton owned the AHL’s best home record in the regular season at 24-5-5-0, a .779 points percentage.
Stockton has made a habit of snapping losing streaks quickly, the current two-game skid being only the fifth for the Heat since the puck dropped on the 2021-22 season. The Heat have not lost three in a row at any point this year and have outscored opponents by a 21-8 margin when ending two-game losing streaks.