Game #53 Preview: Tucson vs. Ontario
Game #53 - Tucson (25-20-5-2) vs. Ontario (19-26-5-2)
7:05 PM MST, Tucson Arena, Tucson, Arizona
Referees: #27 Ben O'Quinn, #38 Ward Pateman
Linesmen: #58 Colin Besch, #20 Brent Hooks
The Roadrunners host the Ontario Reign tonight at Tucson Arena for what is to be the sixth of eight scheduled meetings between the teams this season. Tucson comes into the evening with a 3-0-2-0 record against the Los Angeles Kings' affiliate.
Tucson's roster, which has failed to eclipse the two-goal mark in 11 of its previous 14 games, will receive some much-needed help with the additions of forwards Hudson Fasching and Michael Chaput, who are both expected to be in tonight's lineup.
Fasching, assigned to the AHL by the Arizona Coyotes this morning, missed both of the Roadrunners' games last weekend in Colorado. He leads all current players on the roster in points registered against the Reign this season with seven (2G, 5A).
Chaput, acquired from the Montreal Canadiens at the NHL trade deadline, is tabbed to make his team debut. He last played on February 23, putting up two points (1G, 1A), including the game-winning goal in Laval Rocket's 3-1 victory over the Manitoba Moose.
Lane Pederson, who scored his team-leading 14th goal last Friday in Colorado, touched on the team's scoring struggles, and what they need to do to pop out of their slump: "We're gripping our sticks a bit too tight. We just need a few ugly, greasy goals to go in, just to get the ball rolling and open the floodgates a little bit here; we need to find ways to put some in. It's not going to be fancy, it's not going to be cute, they all count the same on the scoreboard."
Ontario comes into the game sitting in the Pacific Division's basement, seventh-place. The Reign's .433 win percentage ranks last in the entire American Hockey League.
The Roadrunners trail the Colorado Eagles by three points for the grouping's fourth and final playoff spot. The Eagles play the San Diego Gulls on the road tonight at 8:00 PM MST.
The sixth-place Stockton Heat, who trail the Roadrunners by four points, host the first-place Bakersfield Condors at 8:00 PM MST.
THREE THINGS MAKE IT REIGN: The Ontario Reign surrender an average of 4.08 goals per game, the highest median in the AHL. The Roadrunners have scored a combined total of 26 goals in regulation in five games against Ontario this season, an average of 5.20. The Roadrunners' offense, which has eclipsed the two goal mark only three times in its past 14 games, will look to capitalize on the Reign's defensive struggles.
CHAPUT DEBUT: Forward Michael Chaput is expected to play his first game in a Roadrunners uniform tonight. Acquired from the Montreal Canadiens at the NHL trade deadline in exchange for Jordan Weal, the 26-year-old has 16 points (10G, 6A) in 24 AHL games played this season with Laval Rocket. The 2016 Calder Cup champion has played in 325-career AHL games, accumulating 214 points (87G, 127A).
HOUSE CLEANING: Home ice hasn't been particularly kind to the Roadrunners, who have dropped six-straight games played at Tucson Arena (0-5-1-0). They'll look to avoid matching the longest home losing stretch in franchise history tonight, a run of seven consecutive defeats (0-6-1-) from February 4 - March 25 of the inaugural campaign. The team is scheduled to play eight of its next 10 games at home.
NUMBER TO KNOW TWENTY-SIX: Forward Michael Chaput will wear #26 with the Roadrunners, the same number he wore with Laval Rocket, the Montreal Canadiens' American Hockey League affiliate.
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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