STOCKTON – The Monsters were in town Sunday night at Stockton Arena, and in case things got a little out of hand the stands were filled with such fans named Stryker, Jackson, Onyx and Oski to help the Heat if needed.

As it turned out, the Heat didn’t need the help of their four-legged fans, on the ice at least, but the mix of cheers and barks from the seats were a result of a 6-2 victory on Pucks & Paws night. In all, 2,895 fans saw the Heat (29-20-2-3) beat the Cleveland Monsters (20-32-4-3) in their first ever meeting in Stockton.

It was the Heat’s third win over their past four games, and they hopes to improve on their current fifth-place ranking in the American Hockey League’s Pacific Division with three more home games this week.

“We have to win, because every team around us is winning as well,” Heat coach Ryan Huska said. “The challenge I think that we have is that we have to have the mentality that the next game is the most important game, and not worry about anything else that may be going on.

“We found a way to get two important points, and at this time of year that’s a real important thing,” he added.

Stockton’s Mike McMurtry scored his second goal of the season in the opening period, and teammates Cody Goloubef and Brett Pollock increased the Heat lead to 3-0 by the mid-point of the second. Each team scored a power-play goal before the end of the second, with Rasmus Andersson making it 4-1 with an unassisted goal with just over a minute left in the period.

In the third, McMurtry and teammate Ryan Lomberg scored empty-netters over the final three minutes.

“Obviously, we’ve been working on getting off to a good start and it was good to see us get that first one to give us a lot of momentum,” said McMurtry. “I think everyone did a good job of putting pucks north, and we just went to work and came out with a W.”

Pucks & Paws night featured a wide range of dogs of all sizes.

Oski, the 3-year-old mini American Eskimo dog, felt right at home in the cold arena as the pet of the Jeff and Melissa Davis family of Manteca. Daughters Lauren, 11, and Allison, 8, dressed Oski in a volcano-themed T-shirt that reads “I Lava the Heat.”

Lauren Davis, who with her sister produced the “Oskitheeski” site for followers on Instagram, was asked to read Oski’s mind about attending his first hockey game experience.

“He’d say, ‘I can’t believe there’s all these people here. I want to meet them all,’ ” Lauren Davis said.

Jeff Davis, 41, said bringing Oski, named after the Cal Bears mascot, to the game was a natural fit.

“He’s a social dog who wants to see everything,” he said.

Lodi’s Matt Bender, 30, brought Onyx, a 2-year-old Australian Shepherd who he has trained. While being interviewed, several other dogs – and their female owners – made a connection with Onyx. Asked if having a dog makes it easier to strike up a conversation with women, Bender said yes.

“Every now and then,” said Bender, who is single. “It’s definitely a plus. I wouldn’t be mad at (Onyx) if (meeting a woman) happens.”

Stockton police officer James Manor and his K9 partner, Stryker, were on hand to offer a demonstration of their suspect-apprehension skills during the first intermission. The pair have been together for two years, and the 73-pound black Malinois lives with Manor family full time.

“There’s a very strong bond,” said Manor, an 11-year veteran with the department. “You want a partner who’s willing to come out there and have the determination to stay in the fight with the suspect.

“I’ve always had a big love for dogs, and I feel I have the best assignment at the PD,” he added.

Stryker, from the Netherlands, is one of a dozen K9 units at the department. At his first training competition, Manor said Stryker earned the “hardest-hitting dog” award by those who were on the receiving end of Stryker’s wrath.

Modesto’s Pam Davis, 50, and her friend Sue Wilbur arrived with a 9-month-old Basset Hound named Jackson. They knew Jackson, with his classic oversized ears, would have no trouble adapting to the noise and commotion of a typical hockey game.

“Our last one was afraid of a snail,” Pam Davis said. “Jackson loves sniffing butts and eating hot dogs. He’s already finished one. I think he’ll enjoy the heck out of this.”

Dogs were admitted free when owners purchased tickets in dog-friendly sections.

The Heat next play Wednesday as it hosts the Milwaukee Admirals at 7 p.m. That will be followed by a pair of games Friday and Saturday against Tucson. Seven of Stockton’s final 14 games of the regular season are at home.