Game #50 Preview: Tucson at Grand Rapids
By: Alexander Kinkopf
February 28, 2018 9:48 AM
Game #50 – Tucson (29-16-3-1) at Grand Rapids (30-19-1-6)
5:00 PM MST, Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids, Michigan
Referees: #4 Andrew Thackaberry, #15 Stephen Thomson
Linesmen: #86 Nicholas Bet, #65 Bob Marcis
A MATCH IN MICHIGAN: Tonight marks the second of four meetings with the Griffins this season, and the second of two scheduled visits to Grand Rapids’ Van Andel Arena. The Roadrunners are playing the first of a three-game road trip; they’re coming off of a 1-0 overtime loss to the San Antonio Rampage on Saturday night. The Griffins are playing the fourth of a six-game home stand; they’re coming off of a 3-2 shootout win over the Iowa Wild on Sunday.
GRIFFINS HOT: Entering the night, the Griffins have earned points in 13 of their last 14 games, putting together an 11-1-0-2 record during that span. Grand Rapids has also picked up points in seven of its last eight games played on home ice, going 6-1-0-1 during that stretch. Can the Roadrunners put a dent in the Griffins’ winning ways with a road victory tonight?
FIRST TO BEST: Dylan Strome, who beat Grand Rapids’ Tom McCollum at the 14:46 mark of the second period in the Roadrunners’ 3-1 victory over the Griffins on October 25 to net the first goal of his professional career, is one goal shy of setting a new franchise single season high in goals scored for a Tucson player. Strome tied Christian Fischer’s 2016-17 mark of 20 with his goal against the Bakersfield Condors on February 19.
PROJECTED LINEUP: The team held a morning skate at Van Andel Arena ahead of tonight’s game. Per club policy, specifics regarding the team’s lineup will not be published until 3:00 PM this afternoon.
LAWESON CROUSE (67) - LAURENT DAUPHIN (15) - LANE PEDERSON (18)
MICHAEL BUNTING (27) - DYLAN STROME (91) - NICK MERKLEY (38)
JENS LOOKE (24) - MARIO KEMPE (20) - MIKE SISLO (9)
TYE MCGINN (16) - RYAN MACINNIS (72) - PIERRE-CEDRIC LABRIE (22)
JOEL HANLEY (44) - TREVOR MURPHY (28)
ANDREW CAMPBELL (2) - DYSIN MAYO (37)
DAKOTA MERMIS (43) - KYLE WOOD (3)
HUNTER MISKA (35)
ADIN HILL (33)
THE NEW GUYS: There is a chance that three of the Roadrunners’ five acquisitions made prior to Monday’s trade deadline could make their team debuts tonight. Forwards Jordan Maletta, Pierre-Cedric Labrie, and defenseman Trevor Murphy are with the team and are eligible to play. Carter Camper (illness) will join the team in Cleveland. Derek Army has been assigned to the ECHL’s Wheeling Nailers.
THE LAST TIME AROUND: In the teams’ previous meeting on October 25 at Grand Rapids’ Van Andel Arena, the Roadrunners defeated the Griffins by a 3-1 score. All four of the game’s goals were scored in the second period. Mike Sislo, Kyle Capobianco, and Dylan Strome scored for Tucson, all in a 3:31-minute span. Hunter Miska stopped 32 of 33 shots faced in the win.
RETURN 38: Nick Merkley, who’s been cleared to play, is expected to return to the Roadrunners’ lineup at some point during the team’s three-game road trip. Merkley has missed the last 11 games, and 16 of the last 17. "I think I’m just excited to get back. It’s been a long time since I’ve played with them,” he said Monday. “I just want to bring whatever I can to the table for the boys.” Merkley has 35 points (18G, 17A) in 29 games this season.
PLAYOFF PUSH: The Roadrunners enter the night with the second-lowest magic number (33) in the Western Conference. The Griffins, who currently sit at second-place in the AHL’s Central Division, currently have a magic number of 36.
WE’RE DOING IT LIVE: You can catch tonight’s action on AHL Live. Roadrunners play-by-play broadcaster Tom Callahan will have the radio call on AM 1450 Fox Sports Tucson. Radio coverage begins at 4:45 PM.