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Game #68 Preview: Tucson vs. San Diego

By: Alexander Kinkopf
 
 
Game #68 – Tucson (34-25-5-3) vs. San Diego (35-24-5-3)
7:05 PM MST, Tucson Arena, Tucson, Arizona
Referees: #49 Reid Anderson, #9 Anthony Tapper
Linesmen: #58 Colin Besch, #59 Rob Fay
 
The Roadrunners will put a cap on the 2018-19 regular season tonight in hosting the San Diego Gulls at Tucson Arena, where the puck is scheduled to drop just after the 7:05 PM scheduled start time.
 
Should the team’s season continue thereafter has yet to be determined, but that fate will most certainly be decided this evening. There are two clear-cut playoff-clinching scenarios for the Roadrunners at day’s outset.
 
1) A point earned vs. San Diego
2) A Colorado loss (reg/OT/SO) vs. San Jose
 
If they win, they’re in. In fact, that'd be overdoing it. Getting to overtime will do the trick.
 
“Three periods left. If we come out on top, we’re in the playoffs,” Conor Garland said Friday night. “It’s the best time of the year, everybody wants to be playing at this time, so there’s no better game than [this one].”
 
To acknowledge the flip-side of things: if the Roadrunners lose in regulation to the Gulls and the Colorado Eagles earn two points against the San Jose Barracuda, Tucson would be eliminated from playoff contention.
 
 
With Friday night’s 4-3 overtime win, the Roadrunners improved their record against San Diego to a rather dominating 6-1-0-0; they have won all three games played on home ice against the Gulls this year.
 
If anything’s hot right now, it’s the Roadrunners’ power play. With two more man advantage markers last night, Tucson now has 14 power play goals in its past 12 games.
 
The Roadrunners can finish the night as high as third-place in the standings and as low as fifth-place.
 
 
Colorado’s must-win match-up against San Jose is set to begin at 6:05 PM PST, an hour before things get moving at Tucson Arena. The result of that game – further dictating what the Roadrunners will or won’t need from their hosting of San Diego, should be known sometime during the second period.
 


THREE THINGS

CHASING HISTORY: With a goal and an assist Friday night, Lane Pederson extended his point streak to five games, matching the longest score sheet stretch of his career (Five games, December 21, 2018 – January 4, 2018). With 46 points on the year, he’s the team’s leading scorer. In scoring his 22nd goal of the season last night, Pederson finds himself just one shy of matching the single season franchise high of 23, set by Michael Bunting and Mike Sislo during the 2017-18 campaign.
 
 
AN ABSOLUTE NIGHTMARE: In four games played against the Gulls this season, Conor Garland has registered nine points (3G, 6A), putting up multiple points each and every time, including three (2G, 1A) Friday night – highlighted by his overtime winner. He has terrorized the Gulls, simply put. The 23-year-old has 23 points (10G, 13A) in 20 AHL games played this year.
 
 
HERE TO ASSIST: With his assists on Lane Pederson’s opening tally and Conor Garland’s game-winner Friday night, Robbie Russo has matched his career-high in points, now with 39 (6G, 33A) on the year. The 26-year-old defenseman totaled 39 points during his rookie season with the Grand Rapids Griffins during the 2015-16 campaign. Russo’s total of 33 helpers ranks 10th among AHL defensemen this season.
 


NUMBER TO KNOW

ONE HUNDRED: Tonight marks the Roadrunners’ 100th game to be played at Tucson Arena. They have an all-time record of 52-39-7-1 when playing at the corner of Congress St. and Granada Ave.
 


GAMEDAY VIDEO

 


WE’RE DOING IT LIVE

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