Game #63 Preview: Tucson at Iowa
By: Alexander Kinkopf
April 02, 2019 10:08 AM
Game #63 – Tucson (31-23-5-3) at Iowa (34-24-7-5)
5:00 PM PST, Wells Fargo Arena, Des Moines, Iowa
Referees: #46 Brandon Schrader, #41 Conor O’Donnell
Linesmen: #31 Killian McNamara, #7 Alex Stagnone
The Roadrunners begin their final regular season road trip tonight as they pay a visit to Iowa’s Wells Fargo Arena for back-to-back mid-week contests.
Tonight marks the third of four scheduled meetings with the Iowa Wild; the Roadrunners are 1-1-0-0 against Minnesota’s AHL affiliate this year, splitting the two games the teams played on March 19 and 20 at Tucson Arena.
Good Juju? The Roadrunners return to Wells Fargo Arena for the first time since March 31 of last season, just over a calendar year ago, when they clinched their first-ever playoff berth courtesy a third period comeback victory secured by Lane Pederson’s game-winning tally with 37 seconds left on the clock.
A 4-3 win, and a notable one for the franchise.
There is, of course, no possibility to clinch tonight or tomorrow, but the team, with a pair of wins, could slide back into a playoff spot prior to departing Des Moines.
The Wild are reeling a bit, having lost five straight games coming into tonight’s contest. Iowa has lost six of its past seven games overall, allowing four or more goals in each of its defeats. Iowa’s sole win over its past seven games came against the Roadrunners on March 20 – serving as Tucson’s lone regulation loss in its past eight games (6-1-0-1).
At evening’s outset, the Roadrunners find themselves three points out of a playoff spot in the Pacific Division, trailing both the fourth-place Colorado Eagles and the third-place San Diego Gulls by that exact margin. A win of any kind will move them to within one point of each of the two.
The only other team in the AHL’s westward grouping that’s in action tonight are the first-place Bakersfield Condors, who play on the road at the Manitoba Moose. That game has no bearing whatsoever on the Roadrunners’ playoff chase.
TOUGH TO BEAT: Since Adin Hill returned to the Roadrunners in mid-January on assignment from the Arizona Coyotes, he’s made 23 AHL starts, and has allowed more than three goals on only one of those occasions. The 22-year-old is touting a .925 SV% and a 2.04 GAA during that stretch. He has gone 13 consecutive starts without surrendering north of three goals, and enters the night ranked seventh in the AHL among qualified goaltenders with a 2.41 GAA.
OFFENSE AWAKENED: To complement Adin Hill’s fantastic goaltending, and quite frankly, to capitalize on it, the Roadrunners have been juicing up the score sheet, hitting and/or eclipsing the three-goal mark in six of their last eight games, much ado to a power play that has turned on the lights of late, scoring nine times on the man advantage over the past seven games. Along with a healthy dose of 5-on-5 production, the team has even executed while shorthanded, most recent Jeremy Gegoire's penalty kill tally on Saturday night - the team's fifth shorthanded marker of the season.
DANGEROUS IN DES MOINES: Despite dropping each of their last three games played on home ice at Wells Fargo Arena, the Iowa Wild own the second best win percentage as hosts in the Western Conference, calculating in at .691 % due to their magnificent 21-8-4-1 local record, where they’ve outscored visitors by a 128-95 margin. The Roadrunners are 14-10-4-2 on the road this season; they were victorious in each of their two games played in Iowa last year.
NUMBER TO KNOW
TWELVE: The Roadrunners’ magic number to clinch a playoff spot currently stands at 12. The team, in essence, controls its own destiny; should they win out with six victories in any fashion, they will qualify for a 2019 Calder Cup playoff spot.
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 4:45 PM.
Photo: Iowa Wild