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Game #56 Preview: Tucson at Stockton

By: Alexander Kinkopf
 
 
Game #56 – Tucson (26-22-5-2) at Stockton (25-27-4-2)
6:00 PM PST, Stockton Arena, Stockton, California
Referees: #84 Jake Rekucki, #88 Chris Waterstradt
Linesmen: #21 Alexander Ledovskiy, #37 Brett Martin
 
The Roadrunners play the Stockton Heat tonight for the final time this regular season; the puck for the teams’ concluding meeting is slated to drop just after 6:00 PM PST at Stockton Arena, where Tucson has strung together a 2-1-0-0 record this year.
 
With Friday night’s 3-1 win, the Roadrunners snapped their franchise-long seven-game losing streak and scored three goals for the first time since that string of defeats began.
 
Overall, the Roadrunners come into the evening with a 4-3-0-0 record against the Heat. They’ll look to clinch the season series tonight.
 
Michael Chaput, the Arizona Coyotes’ trade-deadline acquisition from the Montreal Canadiens, recorded his first point in a Roadrunners uniform on Friday, credited with the secondary assist on Robbie Russo’s game-opening tally.
 
Head Equipment Manager Eric Bechtol is fresh off of his 1,700th professional game, 191 of which have come in command of the Roadrunners’ supply and gear operations. A firm congratulations to what’s been an outstanding career with only more to come.
 
 
One could argue equipment staff as one of the, if not the toughest jobs in sports. The hours, the labor, the travel – to degrees some can’t even fathom, not even me. Assistant Equipment Manager Ryan Andrus will be approaching a milestone of his own here in the coming weeks.
 
A day in their lives, and probably one of the easier ones, too: HERE
 
A busy night’s ahead in the Pacific Division! All teams are scheduled to play except for the third-place San Diego Gulls. The Roadrunners are currently nine points behind the Colorado Eagles for the fourth and final playoff spot.
 
 
The Eagles play on the road at the San Jose Barracuda this afternoon at 1:15 PM PST – a game that holds much more weight in regard to the Roadrunners’ situation than the contest between the Bakersfield Condors and Ontario Reign, which kicks off at 7:00 PM PST.
 


THREE THINGS

GOTTA GET 3: For just the fourth time in their last 17 games Friday night, the Roadrunners scored at least three goals. They have gone 3-11-2-1 during that stretch, but to no surprise, are 3-0-1-0 in the four games they’ve hit or eclipsed the three-goal total. Stockton remains second worst in the AHL in goals-against, surrendering their opponents an average of 3.83 goals per game.
 
SMERECK IN STOCKTON: Jalen Smereck registered his first AHL point of the season Friday night, assisting on Lane Pederson’s eventual game-winning goal upon directing a shot into traffic. Stockton Arena was also the site of Smereck’s first pro point, which also happened to be his first pro goal (below), joining a rush and beating Mason McDonald in the Roadrunners’ 6-5 overtime victory over the Heat on April 15, 2017. All three (1G, 2A) of Smereck’s AHL points have come in Stockton; can he add to that total tonight?
 
 
BACK-TO-BACK: While back-to-back games are nothing new for the Roadrunners, as is the norm on just about any given weekend, back-to-back wins haven’t been too common lately. Tucson has not strung together consecutive wins since January 21 and 23, when they beat the Texas Stars twice at Tucson Arena. The Roadrunners have won two or more games in succession on eight occasions this season, they’ll look to make it nine tonight.
 


NUMBER TO KNOW

THIRTY: Michael Bunting registered his 30th point of the season on Friday night with his empty-net finisher with 41 seconds left to play, securing the Roadrunners’ win. He became the fifth player to record at least 30 points with the Roadrunners this season.
 


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 5:45 PM.
 
Photo: Stockton Heat