STOCKTON — If nothing else, the Stockton Heat proved that 10 bad minutes doesn’t have to decide a game.
The Heat allowed three goals in the first half-period, but came all the way back to beat the San Diego Gulls 5-4 in a shootout Sunday night at Stockton Arena.
Andrew Mangiapane had a goal and an assist, with Morgan Klimchuk, Tyler Wotherspoon and Brett Pollock adding goals for the Heat.
Pollock’s was the equalizer that ended up forcing overtime, and Hunter Shinkaruk sealed the comeback by finding the net in the sixth round of the shootout.
Early in the first period, though, none of that looked possible. San Diego scored less than a minute into the game, then again a little more than six minutes in and went for the trifecta near the midway point in the period.
After the third goal, Heat head coach Ryan Huska made the move to pull starting goalkeeper Tyler Parsons and insert Ryan Faragher. The new goalie responded, holding the Gulls to a single score the rest of the night, not to mention a handful of huge saves in the shootout.
“Ryan made some saves early when I thought we were on our heels, and that’s what you need a goaltender to do in those situations,” Huska said.
Before the first period was finished, Stockton had whittled the lead to 3-2 thanks to scores from Mangiapane and Klimchuk. Mangiapane, who the night before became the first Heat player to score at least 20 goals in back-to-back seasons, said the comeback was owed to the continued team effort.
“We just chipped away and stuck with it,” Mangiapane said. “We didn’t get off to the start that we wanted, but it’s a good sign that we keep coming back and getting back into games.”
San Diego pulled away briefly in the second period when Giovanni Fiore found the back of the net for the second time that night, but the momentum all but shifted after that. Stockton out-shot San Diego 19-7 in the second period, 11-7 in the third and 3-0 in the overtime period.
While Wotherspoon’s goal in the second made it a one-score game once again, Pollock knotted the score with his shot almost eight minutes into the third. The goal felt great personally, Pollock said, and the eventual win was something that should serve as a big confidence booster in the locker room.
Huska had the same sentiments. Obviously getting into a 3-0 hole out of the gate isn’t the most ideal game plan. But as soon as the Heat got two goals back in that first period alone, Huska said he thought his team had a shot if they could take care of the puck a little better.
One shootout victory later, Stockton showed it was capable of just that.
“This was a really good night in that regard,” Huska said. “We found a way to not let a three-goal deficit early in the game stop us from working and believing that we could come back.”
The Heat will host the Ontario Reign at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
NOTES: Mangiapane’s goal in the first period was his 21st of the season, breaking his previous season high of 20 goals set last season. ... Spencer Foo improved on an already career-best points streak, assisting on Mangiapane’s goal for his sixth straight game with a point. ... Sunday was the 500th professional game of Luke Gazdic’s career.
Contact reporter Nick Woodard at (209) 546-8272 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @nwoodard25.