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Last Week Today: Ground Gained

By: Alexander Kinkopf
 
Photo: Kate Dibildox               
 

The Rundown:

Three points earned, three points out.
 
If the Roadrunners’ push to contend for a playoff spot wasn’t legitimate prior to this past weekend’s set of games against the Colorado Eagles, it certainly is now.
 
Following the team’s resilient 4-3 shootout loss on Friday and wholesome 5-2 victory on Saturday, they now find themselves only three points behind both the fourth-place Eagles and the third-place San Diego Gulls, with games in hand on each of the aforementioned clubs.
 
 
Respond, they have, and in a big way. Following a rather difficult ending to February, and the same can be said for the start of March, the Roadrunners have earned points in seven of their last eight games, going 6-1-0-1 during that stretch.
 
Despite the shootout loss, Friday’s point earned was incredibly massive, and came largely in due part to Nick Merkley’s first pro hat trick, the sixth in club history, less than a week after Lane Pederson’s tally-trio the Saturday prior.
 
 
Down two goals with under seven minutes left to play, Merkley struck twice to extend the game past regulation. Adin Hill was credited with secondary assists on both of those goals, becoming the first Roadrunners goaltender to register multiple points in a single game.
 
There was no playing with fire on Saturday as the Roadrunners’ offense stayed hot from start to finish, winning in thoroughly convincing fashion.
 
In notching his second three-point performance (2G, 1A) of the season, Hudson Fasching set a new career-high in points, now with 31 (15G, 16A) on the year.
 
Defenseman Dakota Mermis, with two assists, set a new career-high in points as well, now with 20 (1G, 19A) on the campaign.
 
The Roadrunners’ magic number sits at 12 with six games remaining. In essence, Tucson controls its own destiny; should they win out, they will qualify for a Calder Cup playoff berth.
 


Where They Stand:

Record: 31-23-5-3 (.565 pts %)
Pacific Division: 5th Place
Western Conference: 8th Place *by win percentage
League: 15th Place *by win percentage
Magic Number: 12
 


The Week That Was:

Friday, March 29
Roadrunners (3) vs. Eagles (4) F/SO
Tucson Arena
 
Saturday, March 30
Roadrunners (5) vs. Eagles (2)
Tucson Arena
 


Up & Down

Recalls (TUC --> ARI)
  • None
Assignments (ARI --> TUC)
  • None
Transactions
  • Wednesday, March 27: Akim Aliu – Released from PTO
  • Friday, March 29: Erik Kallgren – Signed to ATO


Alumni in Action:

Lawson Crouse, who had a heck of a game Sunday afternoon at Gila River Arena, won a battle for a puck following a defensive zone faceoff with under two minutes left in regulation and burrowed his way through a couple of Minnesota Wild defenders to spring Josh Archibald into open ice, leading to an empty net goal in the Arizona Coyotes’ 4-0 win.
 
 


Highlight of the Week:

All three…of these! Nick Merkley recorded the first hat trick of his pro career Friday night at Tucson Arena, opening the scoring and following it with two crucial tallies during the final seven minutes of regulation to extend the game to overtime in the Roadrunners’ eventual 4-3 shootout loss to the San Jose Barracuda.
 
 


Photo of the Week:

A bang up job. Nick Merkley makes contact with the glass moments after burying his third goal of the evening Friday night, tying the game 3-3 with 3:38 remaining in regulation as defensemen Cam Dineen and Dakota Mermis made their way in to join the celebration. (Credit: Chris Hook)