Game #54 Preview: Tucson vs. Ontario
By: Alexander Kinkopf
March 09, 2019 10:44 AM
Game #54 – Tucson (25-21-5-2) vs. Ontario (20-26-5-2)
7:05 PM MST, Tucson Arena, Tucson, Arizona
Referees: #27 Ben O’Quinn, #38 Ward Pateman
Linesmen: #4 Jacob Fraser, #90 Mike Sarter
The Roadrunners host the Ontario Reign for the final time this regular season for what is to be the seventh of eight scheduled meetings between the teams. The two clubs will meet for the final time on April 7 at Ontario’s Citizens Business Bank Arena.
Organizations clash tonight. The Arizona Coyotes host the Los Angeles Kings, Ontario's parent club, at 6:00 PM MST at Gila River Arena. The Reign, by win percentage, sit second-to-last in the AHL (30th) with a .443 PCT, while the Kings' 56 standings points rank 31st in the NHL. The Coyotes are three points out of the final wild card spot in the Western Conference, the Roadrunners five out of the final playoff spot in the Pacific Division.
Despite putting up their second-highest shot total of the season (47) last night, the Roadrunners were held to just one goal yet again. They have been held to two goals or fewer in 12 of their past 15 games – they have gone 2-10-2-1 during that span.
Brayden Burke became the sixth player to score at least 10 goals in a Roadrunners uniform this season on Friday evening with his second period power play marker that caromed off of an Ontario defender and past Cal Petersen.
Burke’s 23 points (10G, 13A) are the most among all Roadrunners rookies; he comes into the night with five points (2G, 3A) in five games played against the Reign this season.
Another busy night in the Pacific Division is on tap with six of the grouping’s seven teams slated to play. The Roadrunners, outside of the playoff picture, sit five points behind the fourth-place Colorado Eagles, who play the San Diego Gulls on the road tonight at 8:00 PM MST.
The second-place San Jose Barracuda host the first-place Bakersfield Condors at 7:00 PM MST. The Stockton Heat, off tonight, moved to within two points of the Roadrunners with their 4-1 victory over the Condors on Friday.
MAKING THEM COUNT: The Roadrunners have eclipsed the 30-shot mark in four of their last five games, and have totaled 173 over that span, an average of 34.6 per game. They have scored a combined total of five goals during that stretch. Can the Roadrunners find the back of the net against a Reign team that is dead last in the AHL in shots-against (36.57) and goals-against (4.02)?
MAKE IT 100: Michael Bunting, the Roadrunners’ franchise leader in points, enters the evening with 99 (47G, 52A) registered in a Tucson uniform. He has reached that total in 171 games played - only Dakota Mermis (173) has played in more games as a Roadrunner. The 23-year-old forward, now in his fourth pro year, has a total of 124 points in 234 AHL games played. He has four points (2G, 2A) in four games played against the Reign this season, and last scored against the Texas Stars on January 23 at Tucson Arena.
BEEN A WHILE: Some time has passed since the Roadrunners last won a home game at Tucson Arena. The team’s last victory as hosts came on January 23, a 4-0 win over the Texas Stars. Since then, they have dropped seven straight games (0-6-1-0) locally, matching the longest home losing streak in franchise history, when they also went 0-6-1-0 during a stretch that spanned February 4 – March 25 of the inaugural campaign.
NUMBER TO KNOW
ELEVEN: Adin Hill’s 2.52 goals-against average ranks 11th among qualified AHL goaltenders this season. As a team, the Roadrunners have allowed their opponents an average of 3.00 goals per game, which ranks 15th in the league.
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