Game #43 Preview: Tucson at Rockford
By: Alexander Kinkopf
February 07, 2019 7:13 PM
Game #43 – Tucson (23-14-4-1) at Rockford (22-19-3-4)
6:00 PM MST, BMO Harris Bank Center, Rockford, Illinois
Referees: #64 Alex Garon, #14 Jordan Deckard
Linesmen: #53 Jonathan Sladeck, #24 Eric McDonald
Tonight marks the start of the Roadrunners’ longest road trip of the season, a six-game stretch that spans over 13 days, also signaling the start of the team’s back-to-back weekend set against the Rockford IceHogs.
These clubs last met on October 19 and 20 at Tucson Arena, splitting the two games, the Roadrunners winning the first meeting, 4-3 in overtime, and dropping the second match-up by a 5-3 count.
The Roadrunners enter the evening carrying the weight of a four-game losing streak (0-3-1-0), the longest of the season and the longest since March 12-25 of 2017, when they dropped five straight (0-4-1-0).
Rockford, on the other hand, comes into the night having won each of its previous five games, the latest of which a 2-1 victory over the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Wednesday night.
With 51 standings points, the Roadrunners find themselves at fourth-place in the Pacific Division at weekend’s outset.
Tucson, within striking distance of the grouping’s third spot tonight, will look to match the San Diego Gulls, who play the Ontario Reign on the road at 8:00 PM MST at Citizens Business Bank Arena.
This morning, the Coyotes acquired forward Emil Pettersson from the Nashville Predators in exchange for forwards Laurent Dauphin and Adam Helewka. Pettersson, who is reporting to the Roadrunners and is with the team in Rockford, has 33 points (11G, 22A) in 49 games with the Milwaukee Admirals this season.
In an AHL deal finalized this morning as well, forward Jeremy Gregoire was acquired from Milwaukee for future considerations. Gregoire, with 223 league games on his resume, has also joined the club in Rockford.
The Roadrunners will carry on without their two All-Stars, forward Michael Bunting and defenseman Kyle Capobianco, as the two remain up on NHL recalls with Arizona.
Goaltender Adin Hill and defenseman Dakota Mermis, who were recalled to the Coyotes as well earlier in the week, were soon re-assigned to Tucson and are with the Roadrunners for tonight’s game.
PEDERSON PRODUCING: With his second period goal in Saturday’s 5-4 overtime loss to the Colorado Eagles at Tucson Arena, Lane Pederson registered his 26th point (12G, 14A) of the campaign, matching his rookie season point total in 22 fewer games. Saturday night also served as Pederson’s sixth multi-point performance of the year. The 21-year-old forward netted his first goal of the season against Rockford on October 20.
FIRST TIME HERE: Rockford’s BMO Harris Bank Center, the IceHogs’ home since the start of the 2007-08 campaign, will tonight become the 15th opposing building the Roadrunners have ever played in. The IceHogs have posted a 12-8-1-2 record this season as hosts, and have won five of their last six games played in Rockford (5-1-0-0). The Roadrunners, in 20 games played away from Tucson Arena this year, enter the evening with a 10-6-3-1 mark as visitors.
CENTRAL SHOWDOWN: The Roadrunners are 4-4-0-0 against Central Division opponents this season, going 1-1-0-0 against Rockford, 1-3-0-0 against the Chicago Wolves, and 2-0-0-0 against the Texas Stars. Tucson’s current trip includes its only regular season visits to Rockford’s BMO Harris Bank Center and Texas’ H-E-B Center at Cedar Park. Overall, Pacific Division teams have gone 32-19-5-2 against those from the Central this year.
NUMBER TO KNOW
FIVE-HUNDRED: The Roadrunners are an even .500 all-time in games played during their annual Gem Show Road Trip, which sees the team leave town for a lengthy period of time each February. They have posted an overall record of 6-6-0-0. They stumbled to a 1-5-0-0 mark in February of 2017, but responded strong to go 5-1-0-0 in February of 2018.
WE’RE DOING IT LIVE
You can catch tonight’s action at Brother John’s Beer Bourbon & BBQ, the official watch party location for all Roadrunners road games during the 2018-19 season. A live telecast is available on AHLTV; Roadrunners play-by-play broadcaster Adrian Denny will have the radio call on AM 1450 Fox Sports Tucson, with coverage starting at 5:45 PM.
Photo: Kate Dibildox