Game #46 Preview: Tucson at Texas
By: Alexander Kinkopf
February 15, 2019 10:41 AM
Game #46 – Tucson (24-15-4-2) at Texas (24-20-3-2)
6:00 PM MST, H-E-B Center at Cedar Park, Cedar Park, Texas
Referees: #50 Jonathon Sitarski, #34 Stephen Reneau
Linesmen: #30 Fred Hudy, #12 Carl Sasyn
The Roadrunners return to Texas’ H-E-B Center at Cedar Park tonight for the first time since May 11, the date their run in the 2018 Calder Cup playoffs came to a halt when Joel L’Esperance buried a rebound 8:43 into overtime in Game 5 of the Pacific Division final, formally ending their 2017-18 season.
Entering the evening seeking their 25th win of the campaign, the Roadrunners are 1-1-0-1 on their current six-game road trip. This weekend marks their only stop in Texas all season.
Jeremy Gregoire is grooving with goals in consecutive games; he found the back of the net for Tucson’s lone regulation tally with 1:19 left to play Tuesday night in San Jose. He and Emil Pettersson, playing crucial roles already, have seen Texas six times this year as members of the Milwaukee Admirals.
The Stars undoubtedly have plenty to play for this evening, as they sit just one point out of the Central Division’s playoff picture. Texas has dropped nine of its last 12 contests, but is coming off of a 3-2 win over the Rockford IceHogs on Tuesday.
Though his status for tonight has not been confirmed, Michael Bunting was re-assigned to the Roadrunners from the Arizona Coyotes on Friday morning after clearing waivers. The 23-year-old forward has 26 points (11G, 15A) in 29 AHL games played this season.
Regardless of tonight’s outcome, the Roadrunners will maintain fourth-place in the Pacific Division. The evening does present, however, a prime opportunity to gain some ground.
It’s an eerily quiet Friday night in the Pacific, with the San Jose Barracuda, San Diego Gulls, Colorado Eagles, and Stockton Heat all sitting idle.
LIGHTING ‘EM UP: It goes without saying that Michael Bunting is a huge add for a Roadrunners offense that has been held to one goal in five of its last seven games. Bunting tore Texas to shreds in late January, registering four points (2G, 2A) in two games against the Stars, including his second three-point performance of the campaign.
NEW STARS: New additions Emil Pettersson and Jeremy Gregoire have been outstanding since joining the Roadrunners, now three games deep with their new club. The two, connecting with Robbie Russo for the team’s late regulation goal Tuesday night in San Jose, now have a combined six points with Tucson; Pettersson with four assists, Gregoire with two goals. The two players’ final game with Milwaukee, ironically, came against Texas on February 6. Pettersson has registered four assists against the Dallas Stars’ farm team this season.
STAY DISCIPLINED: Coming into tonight, Texas is touting the second-best power play in the AHL, executing at a 23.9% rate, nearly one of every four of their man advantage opportunities. They’ve found the back of the net on 44 of their 188 power plays overall; nearly half of those (22) have come on home ice. The Roadrunners, currently killing at an 80.6% rate, have surrendered at least one power play goal in each of their first three games of the road trip.
NUMBER TO KNOW
FOUR: Defenseman Robbie Russo has registered points in four consecutive games, totaling seven (3G, 4A) during that span. His overall total of 29 (5G, 24A) ranks second on the Roadrunners’ active roster to Emil Pettersson’s 37.
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.