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Game #62 Preview: Tucson vs. Colorado

By: Alexander Kinkopf
Game #62 – Tucson (30-23-5-3) vs. Colorado (34-24-4-1)
7:05 PM MST, Tucson Arena, Tucson, Arizona
Referees: #19 Tim Mayer, #17 Peter Tarnaris
Linesmen: #58 Colin Besch, #59 Rob Fay
The Roadrunners host the Colorado Eagles for what is to be the 12th and final regular season meeting between the two teams.
Following Friday night’s 4-3 shootout loss, the Roadrunners now have a 2-6-2-1 mark against the Eagles this year.
Nick Merkley registered the sixth hat trick in club history last night, the first of his pro career, while Adin Hill became the first Roadrunners goaltender to record multiple points in a single game, credited with the secondary assists on both of Merkley’s third period goals.
Tonight also marks the final game of the Roadrunners’ six-game home stand, where they’ve posted a respectable 3-1-0-1 record thus far, earning seven of a possible 10 points.
The Roadrunners signed goaltender Eric Kallgren to an ATO late on Friday. Selected in the seventh round (#183 overall) in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft by the Arizona Coyotes, the 22-year-old is coming off of a season with AIK in Allsvenskan (Sweden) where he posted an 18-12 record with a .920 SV% and a 2.02 GAA.
He will wear #30 with the club and joined the team for today’s optional morning skate.
At evening’s outset, the Roadrunners find themselves five points out of the Pacific Division’s playoff picture. With a win in regulation tonight, they can move to within three.
The seventh-place Ontario Reign are the only team in the grouping idle tonight. The first-place Bakersfield Condors host the second-place San Jose Barracuda, while the third-place San Diego Gulls host the sixth-place Stockton Heat – both of those contests slated for 7:00 PM PST starts.   


OFF THE SCHNEID: With his hat trick Friday night, Nick Merkley now has five points (3G, 2A) in his last two games, upping his season total to 28 (7G, 21A). Merkley’s offensive outburst snapped a skid of 27-straight games without a goal. “After the first one goes in it’s kind of nice, you get that confidence to start shooting more,” he said following last night’s game.
CRUCIAL: As detailed above, the Roadrunners can move to within three points of the Eagles for the Pacific Division’s fourth and final playoff spot with a win in regulation tonight, points they’re in dire need of attaining. If they lose, they will fall seven points out. Regardless of tonight’s outcome, the Roadrunners still have two games in hand on fourth-place Colorado and one game in hand on third-place San Diego.
ONE FOR THE ROAD: Following tonight’s game, the Roadrunners will venture out on their final road trip of the season, where they’ll play four games in three different cities over an eight day stretch – slated to visit the Iowa Wild (x2), the Ontario Reign, and the Bakersfield Condors. Of the Roadrunners’ 68 standings points, it’s been an even split: 34 have been earned at home, 34 on the road.


NINETEEN: With his assist on Nick Merkley’s second period goal last night, Dakota Mermis now has 18 points on the season (1G, 17A), and is now one shy of matching his career-high of 19, which he attained in 59 games during the 2017-18 campaign.




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