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Game #55 Preview: Tucson at Stockton

By: Alexander Kinkopf
Game #55 – Tucson (25-22-5-2) at Stockton (25-26-4-2)
7:00 PM PST, Stockton Arena, Stockton, California
Referees: #47 Michael Markovic, #54 Olivier Gouin
Linesmen: #83 Andrew Norris, #85 Steve Walsh
The Roadrunners take on the Stockton Heat tonight as the teams match-up for back-to-back affairs this weekend at Stockton Arena.
Home ice hasn’t been particularly advantageous in this season series, the clubs splitting the four games played at Tucson Arena and the two played at Stockton Arena. The Roadrunners come into the night with a 3-3-0-0 record against the Heat this year.
In the last meeting between these clubs, January 4 at Stockton Arena, the Roadrunners put up seven goals en route to a 7-5 victory. The Roadrunners have scored more than two goals in just three of their previous 16 games; they have gone 2-11-2-1 during that stretch.
The Heat have earned points in seven of their last 10 games (6-3-1-0), while the Roadrunners come into the evening riding their longest losing streak of the season, franchise history; seven games (0-6-1-0).
When it comes to the Pacific Division, these two clubs have the spotlight. No other teams in the league’s westward grouping are scheduled to play tonight, presenting the Roadrunners a crucial chance at gaining ground.
At evening’s outset, the Roadrunners sit 11 points out of the Pacific’s fourth and final playoff spot. With 14 games left to play on their schedule, Tucson has more points available to attain than any other team in the division.


LATE BLOOMERS: The Roadrunners’ 54 games played are the fewest in the entire American Hockey League, one less than the San Jose Barracuda’s 55. Tucson has four games in hand on the fourth-place Colorado Eagles, three games in hand on the third-place San Diego Gulls, and three games in hand on tonight’s opponent, the Stockton Heat, who are one point behind the Roadrunners in the Pacific Division, sitting in sixth-place.
COLD SPELL: Two of Nick Merkley’s four goals scored this season have come against the Heat; he has a total of six points (2G, 4A) in three games played against Stockton, including a pair of multi-point performances. The 21-year-old will look to continue his scoring ways against Stockton tonight; he is without a goal since January 11, when he beat the Chicago WolvesOscar Dansk at Tucson Arena.
EXTREME HEAT: While the Roadrunners’ offense has struggled of late, tonight’s date with the Heat may help the team claw out of its scoring slump. Stockton allows its opponents an average of 3.84 goals per game, the second-highest average in the AHL, ahead of only the Ontario Reign’s 3.98 median. While they surrender a healthy amount of goals, they score plenty of their own; the Heat’s average of 3.56 goals per game is tied with the Bakersfield Condors for the best mark in the league.


ONE HUNDRED: Should he start, tonight’s contest will serve as Adin Hill’s 100th statistically tracked game (appearance) in a Roadrunners uniform. He is 43-36-13 all-time with the franchise, which includes eight shutouts.




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 6:45 PM.
Photo: Stockton Heat