Game #5 Preview: Tucson vs. Rockford
Game #5 - Tucson (3-0-0-1) vs. Rockford (2-2-0-0)
7:05 PM PST, Tucson Arena, Tucson, Arizona
Referees: #39 Brandon Blandina, #23 Jonathan Sitarski
Linesmen: #58 Colin Besch, #90 Mike Sarter
Kicking off a two-game home stand, the Roadrunners will host the Rockford IceHogs at Tucson Arena for the first time ever Friday night, marking the first of four meetings scheduled between the clubs this season. The IceHogs act as the Roadrunners' 14th opponent in franchise history, and the first of two new opponents they'll play this season.
Rockford, coming off of a 5-2 victory over the Hershey Bears last Sunday on home ice at the BMO Harris Bank Center, have dropped each of their two road games this season, but enter the night with consecutive victories.
Tonight marks the Roadrunners' second home game of the season. The team, following up its 6-4 opener in front of a crowd of 6,327, earned five of six points in posting a 2-0-0-1 mark during a three-game road trip. Tucson remains unbeaten in regulation.
A pair of former Roadrunners grace the IceHogs' roster, defenseman Andrew Campbell and forward Henrik Sameulsson. Campbell, the second team captain in Roadrunners history, is expected to trigger memories and emotions in his return to Tucson Arena this weekend.
"One of my favorite teammates I've ever had, and I bet every guy from the team last season would say that," Conor Garland said of Campbell Friday morning. "Great captain, a good guy, good person, and I'm sure he's happy to be back too."
Forward Lane Pederson has eight points (1G, 7A) in the Roadrunners' last seven home games at Tucson Arena dating back to last March.
THREE THINGS DEPENDABLE DAKOTA: Defenseman Dakota Mermis, through the Roadrunners' first four games, is averaging a point per game, totaling four (1G, 3A), including his first goal of the season Monday night in San Jose. Mermis is tied for second among all defensemen in the AHL with a +/- rating of plus-six.
WHAT'S UP, G?: Conor Garland, upon being cleared from season-starting injured reserve, returned to the Roadrunners lineup last weekend and played in each of the team's three games on the recent California road trip, registering two assists. He is expected to appear in his first home game tonight. "It's nice to get back into playing games, I felt like I hadn't played in a while, so it'll be nice to get a game for myself at home here."
CENTRAL SUCCESS: The IceHogs are one of four Central Division opponents on this season's slate. Last year, the Roadrunners earned points in 13 of 16 games played against Central Division opponents, posting a 13-3-0-0 record. Can the Roadrunners continue their winning ways outside of the Pacific tonight against Rockford?
NUMBER TO KNOW NINETY: 18 of the 20 skaters to have appeared in at least one game for the Roadrunners this season have at least one point, calculating in at 90% of the roster. Not quite as top-heavy offensively this season, balanced output has been a major factor in the team's early success. Two players have four points, three players have three points, seven players have two points, and six players have one point.
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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.
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