Game 51 Preview: Stockton at Tucson
Game #51 - Stockton (28-14-4-3) at Tucson (31-16-1-2)
7 PM MST, Tucson Arena, Tucson, AZ
LISTEN LIVE Fox Sports 1450, iHeart Radio app
WATCH LIVE AHL TV
Referees: Jordan Deckard (#14), Olivier Grouin (#54)
Linesmen: Rob Fay (#32), Ben O'Quinn (#92)
With no shortage of drama last night the Roadrunners returned home with their first win on Tucson Arena ice since January 3 Friday.
Can they make it two victories in two nights against the same Stockton Heat? Or will Stockton draw a point closer or even tie Tucson in the Pacific Division standings?
And of course, more on today's BREAKING NEWS of Darcy Kuemper being assigned to Tucson for the purpose of conditioning. In the meantime, CLICK HERE to take advantage of our Darcy Kuemper FLASH SALE for tonight's game.
1) This morning it was announced that NHL All-Star Darcy Kuemper was assigned to Tucson on a conditioning loan as he works his way back from injury to Glendale. Without question a welcomed addition to the roster, the outstanding netminder is expected to start tonight for the Roadrunners, wearing his #35. Kuemper last played in game action on December 19, so it's been over two full months, however, he got close to returning to the Coyotes last week in Montreal before suffering a setback. While we hope tonight's test goes well for him and he is able to return to his NHL perch in no time, it's also incredibly exciting to see a player of this caliber inside Tucson Arena.
2) Last night's contest was jam-packed with power play chances for Tucson and although they only scored on one of the nine opportunities, a win is a win and the group was undoubtedly happy with that. Beau Bennett was great, scoring twice and Michael Bunting got rewarded for his crucial late-game block with the overtime winner, however, post-game Jay Varady said he was most pleased with his team's skating in the effort. The guys were hungry on pucks, constantly attacking on on top of a Stockton team that can score when given just inches of space and it showed, as one of the team's highest scoring team's in the league was limited to just two goal through nearly 62 minutes of play. That same intensity isn't sustainable for 68 games but if the home side can bring the same juice tonight, that'll be a crucial step toward obtaining another win against the Heat.
3) Part of what set Stockton back last night was losing two of their key forwards over the course of the game. Forward Alan Quine, who has 46 points in 38 games at the AHL level this season, went down on his first shift of the night, thus limiting his impact. The Heat roster is already battling injuries galore but twice now within the last week we've seen them take the Roadrunners take them all the way past 60. These are monumental points for them too and they have to be salivating at the chance to take points before hitting the road and earning a split in first place.
What's The Word?
Roadrunners captain Michael Chaput the morning after a weekend opening win on the mood of the room...
"We feel pretty good. It'd been a tough stretch of games for us but we'd been playing some good hockey. We weren't getting the results we wanted and we weren't getting the 60 minutes that we wanted but yesterday was a good game, we finally got the result we wanted and we need to do it tonight."
Roadrunners captain Michael Chaput on the team's mindset going into tonight...
"If you can't get up for a game like tonight, there's something wrong there. It's first place against second place, we're playing the team that's right behind us. At this point in time every point matters and it's going to be big, important games here until the end."
Roadrunners captain Michael Chaput on what the team needs to do tonight to be successful...
"We need to stick to our game. We need to play a steady, simple game and not force anything. We need to wait until we get our chances and focus on not giving anything up. If we do that, it'll work for us."
Number to Know
33. Goaltender Darcy Kuemper is expected to become the 33rd player in the Coyotes - Roadrunners affiliation to play a game for both teams tonight.
We're Doing It Live
Catch tonight's active LIVE on AHLTV or join Roadrunners play-by-play voice Adrian Denny on Fox Sports 1450 AM and iHeart Radio as he calls the game from the Roadrunners' flagship radio station, beginning at 6:45 PM.
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