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Game #67 Preview: Tucson vs. San Diego

By: Alexander Kinkopf
 
 
Game #67 – Tucson (33-25-5-3) vs. San Diego (35-24-4-3)
7:05 PM MST, Tucson Arena, Tucson, Arizona
Referees: #49 Reid Anderson, #9 Anthony Tapper
Linesmen: #58 Colin Besch, #20 Brent Hooks
 
The Roadrunners aggress the regular season’s final weekend tonight in playing the first of a back-to-back set as hosts to the San Diego Gulls – action set to begin shortly after the 7:05 PM scheduled start time at Tucson Arena.
 
This evening’s affair marks the seventh of eight scheduled meetings with the Anaheim Ducks’ affiliate. The Roadrunners own a 5-1-0-0 record against the Gulls through the first six.
 
Conor Garland returned to Tucson’s lineup on Wednesday in Bakersfield and finished a solid night’s work with six shots on goal and an assist in the Roadrunners’ 4-3 loss to the Condors.
 
He will tonight play his first game at Tucson Arena since November 21, when he scored two goals, including the game-winner, in a 3-2 win over the Stockton Heat.
 
 
The Roadrunners have beaten the Gulls four straight times on home ice, a streak that dates back to the final weekend of last year’s regular season – when Tucson annihilated San Diego’s bid for a 2018 playoff berth.
 
On pins and needles. Coming into the night, three teams – the Roadrunners, the Colorado Eagles, and the Gulls – are vying for the Pacific Division’s final two playoff spots. Should the Roadrunners beat the Gulls in both games, and at least once in regulation, they are guaranteed a postseason berth.
 
 
 
The Eagles host the San Jose Barracuda for a game that is slated to begin at 6:05 PM PST, a contest extremely relevant to where Tucson will stand at night’s conclusion.
 
Tucson cannot clinch tonight, but they can be eliminated from contention if they lose in regulation and Colorado wins in any fashion.
 


THREE THINGS

GARLAND THE GREAT: Conor Garland has registered multiple points in all three games he’s played against San Diego this season, credited with two assists on both October 12 and 27, and a goal and an assist on November 7, all Roadrunners wins. He’s totaled six points (1G, 5A) this year against Tucson’s Pacific Division foe. Overall, the 23-year-old forward is averaging more than a point per game at the AHL level this year, amassing 20 (8G, 12A) in 19 contests.
 
SOMETHING SPECIAL: The Roadrunners’ power play continued to produce at a healthy rate Wednesday night when Dakota Mermis drove home the team’s 12th man advantage tally in its last 11 games. San Diego enters the evening with the 14th ranked penalty kill in the American Hockey League, nixing its opponents 81.3% of the time. Tucson is 21-10-4-1 this season when connecting on its power play.
 
 
LEANING ON LANE: Lane Pederson comes into the night riding a four game point streak, penning the score sheet with two goals and two assists during the Roadrunners’ road trip. Now with 44 points on the year (21G, 23A), the sophomore forward is just two goals shy of matching the single-season franchise record of 23, set by Michael Bunting and Mike Sislo during the 2017-18 campaign.
 


NUMBER TO KNOW

TEN: Michael Bunting has registered 10 points (1G, 9A) in six games played against the Gulls this season, including the first of this three three-point rendezvous with three assists on December 5 in a 5-2 Roadrunners win.
 


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: Chris Hook