Game #47 Preview: Tucson at Texas
By: Alexander Kinkopf
February 16, 2019 11:18 AM
Game #47 – Tucson (24-16-4-2) at Texas (25-20-3-2)
6:00 PM MST, H-E-B Center at Cedar Park, Cedar Park, Texas
Referees: #50 Jonathon Sitarski, #34 Stephen Reneau
Linesmen: #46 Eli Rivera, #12 Carl Sasyn
The Roadrunners will play the Texas Stars for the final time this regular season when the two meet tonight at the H-E-B Center at Cedar Park.
For just the second time all season on Friday, the Roadrunners were held scoreless; the previous occasion in which they were kept without a goal came in a 2-0 loss to the Colorado Eagles on December 12 at Tucson Arena.
Even though it’s been few and far between for the Roadrunners when it comes to being shutout, they haven’t particularly been lighting up the score sheet of late. Tucson has failed to score more than one goal in six of its last eight contests, a stretch that dates back to January 25, where the team has compiled a 1-5-1-1 record.
Michael Bunting returned to the lineup on Friday after being assigned from the Arizona Coyotes upon clearing waivers. Bunting was a menace in the defensive zone with a consistent physical presence to complement his awareness. A trademark night for #27.
Again, the Roadrunners will continue to hold fourth-place in the Pacific Division regardless of tonight’s outcome.
A busy night in the Pacific Division sees all seven clubs in action. The match-up that may peak interest out of the three intra-division affairs taking place this evening is that of the Colorado Eagles against the Stockton Heat, set for a 7:00 PM MST start at Stockton Arena.
The Roadrunners enter the night with a magic number of 41.
GOTTA SHOOT: Nick Merkley led all Roadrunners in shots registered on Friday with five. Merkley has been without a goal in his past 13 games, his last tally coming in a 6-3 loss to the Chicago Wolves on January 11 at Tucson Arena. Merkley put up three points (3A) against the Texas Stars on January 21, a 6-3 win; can he get off the schneid with a goal tonight?
RETURN THE FAVOR: Adin Hill is likely to get the start this evening to follow Hunter Miska’s solid 27-save performance on Friday. The 22-year-old netminder has faced the Stars just once this season, and was phenomenal when doing so, stopping all 39 shots faced to earn his second AHL shutout of the year, shouldering Tucson to a 4-0 win on January 23.
NEED SOME POWER: As it has for most of the year, the Roadrunners’ power play success has had a direct correlation to their game results on their six-game road trip. They have won the one game in which they capitalized on the man advantage during their current venture, a 5-3 victory over the Rockford IceHogs last Saturday, when the team’s units went 2-for-3. The Roadrunners are 15-5-3-0 this season when executing on the power play.
NUMBER TO KNOW
THIRTY-TWO: The Roadrunners are 14-5-3-1 this season when scoring the first goal of a given game. They have struck first in exactly half of their games played thus far, 23 of the 46. Of Tucson’s 54 standings points entering the night, 32 have been earned in games where they’ve opened the scoring.
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.
Photo: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars