Game #29 Preview: Tucson vs. Stockton
By: Alexander Kinkopf
December 28, 2018 1:04 PM
Game #29 – Tucson (16-8-3-1) vs. Stockton (13-13-3-0)
7:05 PM PST, Tucson Arena, Tucson, Arizona
Referees: #18 Jason Williams, #88 Chris Waterstradt
Linesmen: #53 Bevan Mills, #20 Brent Hooks
Back from the holiday break, the Roadrunners host the Stockton Heat to begin a two-game weekend series, tonight serving as the fourth meeting of the year between the clubs.
In three games played against the Heat thus far, the Roadrunners are 1-2-0-0 with a 1-1-0-0 record on home ice. This weekend marks Stockton’s final regular season visit to Tucson Arena.
The Roadrunners snapped their season-long four-game losing streak last Saturday in a 4-3 win over the San Jose Barracuda at SAP Center.
"It was nice to get that win, obviously we were on a bit of a slide so it was nice to get that one," Nick Merkley said following the morning skate. "I thought we played well during both games [in San Jose]. We want to follow that energy from last game into tonight, have a good game here and hopefully come out with a win."
The Heat enter the evening with points in three-straight games (1-0-2-0).
Acquired from the Anaheim Ducks this morning in exchange for defenseman Trevor Murphy, forward Giovanni Fiore could make his Roadrunners debut tonight. In 23 games played with the San Diego Gulls this season, the 22-year-old has 11 points (6G, 5A). He has 41 points (24G, 17A) in 88 career AHL games.
Fiore will wear #13 with the Roadrunners.
Defenseman Kyle Capobianco, among current roster players, is tied with David Ullstrom (2A) for the most points registered against the Heat this season. He leads the team in overall points with 22 (4G, 18A), ranking him fourth among AHL defensemen.
GETTING LOCAL: The Roadrunners’ .750 win percentage on home ice this season is second-best in the Western Conference and tied for fourth-best in the entire AHL. In 12 games played at Tucson Arena, they’ve posted a 9-3-0-0 record. Only the Syracuse Crunch and Providence Bruins have played as few home games as the Roadrunners. 10 of the team’s next 14 games will be played at home.
THAT’S GROSS: Defenseman Jordan Gross enters the night with points in each of his last three games, and totaled three goals during the Roadrunners’ weekend series in San Jose prior to the holiday break, including the game-winning goal with 1:54 to play on Saturday night. He now has 13 points (4G, 9A) on the year.
WHO’S FIRST?: Both the Roadrunners and Heat have had a great deal of success this season when netting the first goal of any given game. Tucson is a striking 9-3-3-0 when doing so, earning points in 12 of those 15 games. Stockton is a respectable 8-3-2-0 when registering a game’s opening goal, acquiring standings points in 10 of those 13 games. Can the Roadrunners bury the opening goal tonight?
NUMBER TO KNOW
THIRTY: Stockton is ranked 30th in the AHL in goals allowed per game, second-worst, surrendering a median of 3.86 to its opponents each contest, better than only the Ontario Reign’s 31st-ranked mark of 4.31.
WE’RE DOING IT LIVE
Catch tonight’s action LIVE on AHLTV or join Roadrunners play-by-play broadcaster Adrian Denny on AM 1450 Fox Sports Tucson as he calls the game from the Roadrunners’ flagship radio station, where coverage begins at 6:50 PM.