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Game #45 Preview: Tucson at San Jose

By: Alexander Kinkopf
Game #45 – Tucson (24-15-4-1) at San Jose (26-11-2-4)
8:00 PM MST, SAP Center, San Jose, California
Referees: #88 Chris Waterstradt, #7 Alex Ross
Linesmen: #21 Alexander Ledovskiy, #83 Andrew Norris
The Roadrunners get set to take on the San Jose Barracuda for the sixth time this season as they make their fourth and final visit of the year to SAP Center, a building in which they’ve posted a 1-0-1-1 record thus far.
Overall, the Roadrunners have done quite well for themselves when matched up against San Jose this year, earning points in all five of the teams’ previous meetings, going 3-0-1-1.
No love lost! Tonight marks the first time that the Roadrunners' visit to San Jose during their annual Gem Show Road Trip does not fall on Valentine's Day; they have played at SAP Center on February 14 in both 2017 and 2018, losing each time. The team could use a change of fortune in its mid-February visits to Northern California, maybe tonight's alter of date will be just that.
On Saturday night, Tucson snapped its season-long five-game winless streak (0-4-1-0) with a 5-3 victory over the Rockford IceHogs, and are now 16-0-3-0 this year when scoring four or more goals.
Robbie Russo buried two to register his first multi-goal game, including the game-winner with 2:20 left in regulation.
The team could use an offensively savvy encore performance tonight against a Barracuda club that is tied with the Syracuse Crunch for first in the AHL in team defense, allowing their opponents a tough-to-come-by average of just 2.63 goals per game.
Entering the night at fourth-place, the Roadrunners could jump to third with a regulation or overtime win and a San Diego Gulls loss of any kind.
The Gulls play on the road against the fifth-place Colorado Eagles tonight, that meeting scheduled to start at 7:05 PM MST.


SAN JOSE STRUGGLING: The Barracuda come into the night having lost each of their last three contests, their worst stretch of the season to date. Their string of defeats includes a 4-2 L to the Iowa Wild on February 5, a 3-1 L to the Bakersfield Condors on February 8, and a 4-3 L to the Ontario Reign on Sunday. Can the Roadrunners extend San Jose’s struggles with a win tonight?
THAT’S GROSS: Rookie defenseman Jordan Gross has been marvelous when playing against the Barracuda this season, touting the team-lead in points against San Jose this year with five (3G, 2A), including three goals netted at SAP Center. Gross scored twice in the teams’ previous meeting on December 22, including the game-winner with 1:54 left in regulation to help lift the Roadrunners to a 4-3 victory.
NEW ENERGY: Forward Emil Pettersson put forth his first-ever three-assist performance on Saturday night, giving him 36 points (11G, 25A) in 51 games played this season. Jeremy Gregoire also found the score sheet by way of a goal on Saturday, tipping home his first in a Roadrunners uniform and his sixth of the season. Neither Pettersson or Gregoire have ever played against San Jose.


NINETY-SEVEN: Defenseman Robbie Russo, coming off the first multi-goal game of his professional career, enters the night leading the Roadrunners in shots taken this season with 97.




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 7:45 PM.
Photo: San Jose Barracuda