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Game #48 Preview: Tucson at San Diego

By: Alexander Kinkopf
 
 
Game #48 – Tucson (25-16-4-2) at San Diego (27-16-3-3)
8:00 PM MST, Pechanga Arena San Diego, San Diego, California
Referees: #66 Kenny Anderson, #39 Brandon Blandina
Linesmen: #88 Brent Tubbs, #20 Anthony Falette
 
The Roadrunners will put the finishing touches on their season-long six-game road trip tonight in matching up with the San Diego Gulls at Pechanga Arena San Diego, seeing their I-8 border Pacific Division rival for the first time since December 5.
 
Though it’s been a while, there’s plenty of good to look back at; the Roadrunners are perfect against the Gulls this season, touting a 5-0-0-0 record, and have won each of the previous eight meetings between the clubs dating back to April 11 of last season.
 
Since these teams last met, the Gulls have gone a rejuvenated 19-7-2-2, including a 15-game point streak from December 14 - January 19 to climb to third-place in the division.
 
Name change! But all remains the same. Tonight marks the Roadrunners’ first visit to the Gulls’ home since the building’s naming rights were changed. Formerly the Valley View Casino Center and now Pechanga Arena San Diego, the tweak in title doesn’t change the fact that the Roadrunners have earned points in seven of their last eight visits (6-1-0-1) to America’s Finest City, dating back to November 18, 2017.
 
A prime opportunity to gain ground in the points category presents itself tonight. There will be no movement, up or down, for the Roadrunners, regardless of this evening’s outcome.
 
 
The only other Pacific Division match-up on tonight’s docket takes place in the Inland Empire between the grouping’s sixth and seventh-place clubs; the Ontario Reign host the Stockton Heat at 8:00 PM MST at Citizens Business Bank Arena.
 
Michael Bunting is expected to return to the Roadrunners’ lineup tonight after being re-assigned by the Arizona Coyotes Wednesday morning.
 
Likely the most exciting storyline of the evening is to be Christian Dvorak’s presumed season debut; tonight marks the first game he is eligible to play in during his AHL conditioning assignment. He will become the 25th player in the organization to wear both a Coyotes and Roadrunners jersey.
 


THREE THINGS

BUNTING’S BOOST: In five games played against the Gulls this season, Michael Bunting has totaled nine points (1G, 8A), including three multi-point performances. The 23-year-old forward, who has five NHL games under his belt this season, registered the primary assist on David Ullstrom’s game-winning goal in the Roadrunners’ 4-1 win over the Texas Stars on Saturday night. Bunting’s lone goal against the Gulls this season came on October 12, a 3-2 Roadrunners win.
 
 
FOUR-POINT AFFAIR: The ‘four-point game’ term will be used more and more as we delve deeper into the season’s late stages. The fourth-place Roadrunners, playing the third-place Gulls tonight, will fall six points behind their counterpart with a regulation loss, but climb to within two with a regulation win.
 
BACK IN THE ‘A’: This won’t be Christian Dvorak’s first go-around in the American Hockey League, but you hope it’s his last. Dvorak made his pro debut with the then-Arizona affiliate Portland Pirates on April 18, 2015, a day after signing his entry-level contract with the Coyotes, and registered both his first pro goal and assist a night later in a 5-4 Pirates win over the Worcester Sharks.
 


NUMBER TO KNOW

ELEVEN: That’s the number forward Christian Dvorak will don tonight and throughout the duration of his conditioning assignment with the Roadrunners.
 


GAMEDAY VIDEO

 


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 7:45 PM.