STOCKTON – The Heat couldn’t say they didn’t have their chances.

Even though Heat winger Kerby Rychel’s third period interception and score closed the gap to one goal, it was Stockton’s futility on power plays that let Manitoba skate away with a 2-1 AHL victory in front of 2,531 fans in AHL action Friday evening at Stockton Arena.

Stockton had six powerplay chances in the second period alone - and went 0-for-7 for the match - as the Moose racked up 31 penalty minutes on 10 infractions but didn’t make any hay as the Heat struggled to collectively get the puck past Manitoba Moose goalie Eric Comrie, who had lost three of his past four starts coming into Friday’s tilt.

The Heat (11-12-1-0), determined to be the clear aggressors, dug an early hole with twin penalties in the first two minutes for cross checking by Dillon Dube and elbowing against Josh Healy.

Manitoba (11-12-1-0), which was 1 of 5 on power plays, quickly took advantage with a backside wrister by defenseman Logan Stanley past Stockton goalie Jon Gillies for a 1-0 lead at 2:46 on the clock.

The Moose outshot Stockton 10-7 in the opening period as the Heat chemistry wasn’t connecting for many clear looks even as the Stockton defense did a good job limiting Manitoba’s attempts for most of the period. 

But a Stockton turnover near mid-ice with less than a minute remaining saw Manitoba winger Skyler McKenzie drive the right side of the defense, do a complete spin, and deftly drop the puck to teammate C.J. Suess, who skated in and slipped a shot under Gilles’ stick side for a 2-0 margin at 19:14.

Manitoba, which had a three-game losing streak coming into the Arena after losing a pair in Bakersfield, managed to kill off power play after power play pressing the puck with quick skating.

The Heat’s Andrew Nielson, recently acquired by the Calgary Flames from the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for forward Morgan Klimchuck, made his Stockton debut after practicing with the team during its week hiatus.

Nielson, who was on ice during several of six second-period power play chances, had a shot deflected by Comrie but the new Heat defenseman also snagged two penalties against the Moose in the period.

Stockton outshot Manitoba 20-4 in the second period due to its numerous powerplay opportunities, including a 5-on-3 advantage but the Heat couldn’t light the lamp.

Rychel scored his team-leading 12th goal of the season at 5:15 in the third period that was all the offense Stockton could muster even as Heat coach Cail MacLean pulled Gillies for the final two minutes of the contest.

Stockton outshot Manitoba 42-16 as Gillies had 14 saves, while Comrie had 41 saves in the win.

Stockton, which held a 90’s themed evening with a toy drive for area youth, will close out the series tonight at 6:00 as the Heat host Military Night.