Playing in their third shootout of the young AHL season, the Stockton Heat exacted revenge against their geographic rival, the San Jose Barracuda, defeating the visiting Sharks affiliate 4-3 Saturday night.
With minutes dwindling in the third period, the most-heralded prospect on the ice, right winger Emile Poirier, sent a one-timer in from the slot off a pass from Derek Grant to thrust the game into overtime. It was the first goal of the season for Poirier.
“[Derek Grant] made a really good pass to me and I was all alone in front,” Poirier said. I just wanted to let it go and fortunately for me it went in to tie it up.”
After an extra five minutes of scoreless play, goaltender Kevin Poulin, who kept the Heat in the game by making 30 saves on 33 shots, was injured after stopping Barracuda Bryan Lerg’s shot in the second round of the shootout. Backup Kent Simpson was summoned for his first action since November 7.
The former Chicago Blackhawk was unable to deny the third and fourth San Jose shooters but scores from Markus Granlund and Drew Shore kept the Heat’s hopes alive. After Freddie Hamilton tucked one past Barraucda goaltender Troy Grosenick in the fifth round, Simpson disallowed right winger Barclay Woodrow’s response to secure two points and the first non-regulation win of the season for Stockton.
“It was my first time coming in to that kind of a situation,” Simpson said. “I was happy the guys scored a lot of goals for me and gave me a little cushion. The good thing is that you don’t really have time to think about it, so you just jump in. The guys were scoring goals and I knew it was just a matter of time until I made a save, but I just tried to keep my emotions in check and get a win for the guys.”
Three consecutive Barracuda goals erased a 2-0 lead built by notches from Ken Agostino and Granlund in the first period.
Agostino’s goal that opened the scoring at the 5:16 mark was also the first of his season. The left winger was relieved to finally grab it after tallying 15 last season for Adirondack.
“It felt good to get that first one out of the way,” Agostino said. “Obviously it took a little longer than I would have liked to get it, but you get one and then they all start to fall. Hopefully we can keep it going.”
The Heat outshot the Barracuda in every period of play except the first. The largest difference came in the third period when Stockton attempted 17 shots to the visitor’s four. Grosenick made 49 saves in the losing effort.
Stockton inched past San Jose in the Pacific Division standings with the win. Saturday’s meeting was only the second between the teams, despite being 83 miles apart. The Barracuda handed the Heat a 4-1 defeat on October 15 in the same building.
The Heat (5-5-0-2) will travel south to face the Ontario Reign for a Thanksgiving Eve tilt that is scheduled for a 6:00 p.m. MT start.
by Ed Lupien