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Game #59 Preview: Tucson vs. San Jose

By: Alexander Kinkopf
Game #59 – Tucson (28-23-5-2) vs. San Jose (32-19-2-4)
7:05 PM MST, Tucson Arena, Tucson, Arizona
Referees: #39 Brandon Blandina, #74 Michael Sheehan
Linesmen: #17 William Hancock, #20 Brent Hooks
The Roadrunners play the third of six-straight games at home tonight when they host the San Jose Barracuda at Tucson Arena, marking the seventh of eight scheduled regular season meetings between the clubs.
So far in the season series, the Roadrunners have done well for themselves against the Sharks’ AHL affiliate, having earned points in all six meetings, posting a 3-0-1-2 record, including a 2-0-0-0 mark at home.
The Barracuda are coming off of a 9-0 win over the Colorado Eagles last Sunday, which was the highest scoring shutout in the AHL since the Toronto Marlies’ 9-0 drubbing of the Manitoba Moose on December 6, 2015.
Despite missing the first half of the season and only playing in 35 games thus far, Nick Merkley is tied with Michael Bunting for the fifth-most assists registered in a Roadrunners uniform this year with 19.
Merkley assisted on goals in each of the Barracuda’s two previous visits to Tucson Arena this season on December 21 and 22.
On Friday, the Roadrunners signed defenseman Dennis Busby to an ATO, the Arizona Coyotes’ fifth round selection (#145 overall) in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. He is with the team and participated in today’s morning skate, wearing #11.
Coming into the evening seven points out of the Pacific Division’s playoff picture, the Roadrunners have a chance to inch to within five with a regulation win tonight.
It goes without saying; tonight's game is crucial.
All teams in division are in action tonight except for the sixth-place Stockton Heat. The fourth-place Colorado Eagles host the Manitoba Moose at 6:05 PM PST, while the second-place San Diego Gulls host the Ontario Reign at 7:00 PM PST.


BEEN A WHILE: Including the playoffs, the San Jose Barracuda have not scored a goal in their last four games played at Tucson Arena. They have gone 240:00 straight minutes without a goal. In fact, it’s been over a calendar year since they last found the back of the net as visitors in Tucson; March 21, 2017 – Jacob Middleton’s overtime tally in a 4-3 Barracuda win. Since then, Adin Hill and Merrick Madsen have posted two home shutouts apiece against the Barracuda, combining to stop all 93 shots faced over those four contests.
WORKING FROM HOME: Of the Roadrunners’ 10 remaining regular season games, six of them will be played on home ice, including the next four. With points at a premium right now, the team would like to pocket as many as possible as hosts. The Roadrunners are 14-13-1-0 at Tucson Arena this season, where they’ve earned 29 of their 63 standings points.
STINGY ON DEFENSE: The Roadrunners have held their opponents to two goals or less in each of their previous four games, and in 10 of their last 14 overall. The team enters the night 13th in the AHL with a 2.95 GAA, but welcomes a San Jose team that averages 3.37 goals per game, and is coming off a 9-0 win over Colorado on Sunday.


NINE: Adin Hill ranks ninth among qualified goaltenders in the American Hockey League with a 2.48 goals against average.




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.
Photo: Kate Dibildox