Phoenix Concludes 2008-09 Season with Four-Game Series at Idaho
'RUNNERS REWIND: The Phoenix RoadRunners suffered a set-back in their drive at clinching a Kelly Cup playoff berth by taking just two of a possible six points last week. With a record of 29-34-5 and 63 points, the RoadRunners sit in fifth place in the West Division seven points behind fourth place Utah, and in ninth place in the National Conference eight points behind Bakersfield and Stockton.
Tuesday, Rob Hennigar and Tim Verbeek each had a goal and two assists and the Utah Grizzlies doubled up the Phoenix RoadRunners 4-2 before 3,081 at the "E"-Center.
Utah (27-25-16) jumped out of the gates quickly opening up a 3-0 first period lead and chasing RoadRunners' goalie Chris Beckford-Tseu from the game. Hennigar started the scoring at 7:35 when he received a pass in the slot from Verbeek and slid the puck through the pads of Beckford-Tseu and into the back of the cage for a 1-0 lead. The Grizzlies then scored twice in a span of 11 seconds in the period's final minute. Off a RoadRunners' turnover, Hennigar fed a driving Mike Walsh who jammed a shot through Beckford-Tseu and in at 19:16. Then off the ensuing face-off, Tom May netted his 31st goal of the season beating Beckford-Tseu over the left shoulder from the top of the right-wing circle at 19:27 to cap the first period scoring.
The RoadRunners (28-33-5) cut the deficit to two goals midway through the second period when Gino Guyer capitalized off a Utah turnover and beat Grizzlies' goalie Mike Mole along the ice at 6:55 making the score 3-1.
Phoenix made it interesting at 6:54 of the third period when John McNabb slapped a shot over Mole's right shoulder off the crossbar and into the net to pull within 3-2, but the RoadRunners could not muster the equalizer. Verbeek finished the scoring with an empty-net goal at 19:26
Utah out-shot Phoenix 44-28. Beckford-Tseu stopped 14 shots in just one period and suffered the loss to fall to 2-6-2 on the season. The RoadRunners went 0-4 on the power play while Utah was 0-6 with the man-advantage.
Wednesday, Goalie Kyle Jones made a career-high 40 saves and David Rutherford scored a goal and added two assists to lead the Phoenix RoadRunners over the Utah Grizzlies 4-2 before 3,432 at the "E"-Center.
After falling behind 3-0 in the first period Tuesday, the RoadRunners (29-33-5) responded Wednesday with a three-goal first period of their own. Rutherford opened the scoring at 4:56 making a nifty spin move to get around the defense and sliding a backhand shot along the ice past Utah goalie Mike Mole for a 1-0 lead. Phoenix then capitalized twice on special teams getting a power play goal off a rebound chance by Chase Trull at 14:45 and a shorthanded goal on a breakaway by Daniel Sisca at 18:02 to go into the first intermission up 3-0.
The RoadRunners continued their offensive attack in the second period as Michael Wilson fired a slap shot from the blue line through a screened Mole at 4:28 on the power play to extend the lead to 4-0.
Utah (27-26-16) tried to fight back in the third period getting even-strength goals from Jordan Hart at 8:55 and Rob Hennigar at 18:04, but the Grizzlies simply ran out of time in the end.
Phoenix out-shot Utah 43-42. Jones improved to 8-13-2 on the season with the victory. The RoadRunners went 2-6 on the power play while Utah was 0-6 with the man-advantage.
Saturday, Scott Burt scored two goals as he lifted the Alaska Aces over the Phoenix RoadRunners 3-1 in front of a season-high 6,465 fans at US Airways Center.
After a penalty-filled first period the RoadRunners (29-34-5) were able to get on the board and take a 1-0 lead at 3:26 of the second period when Jim Jorgensen scored from the high slot with a two-man advantage. Mitch Carefoot and Daniel Sisca had the assists. The remainder of the period would remain scoreless as Phoenix outshot Alaska 13-10.
"I thought we played a good game," RoadRunners' Head Coach Brad Church said. "I thought we lacked a little bit of urgency though which surprised me."
The Aces (44-23-3) tied up the game at 1:13 of the third period when Burt scored from Brett Hemingway. Tomas Kana had the other assist. Burt gave Alaska a 2-1 lead at 10:06 when he charged the net and scored top-shelf over RoadRunners' goalie Kyle Jones. Kana and Hemingway assisted. Colin Hemingway scored an insurance goal for the Aces at 17:34 from the slot with Cam Keith getting the assist.
"(The Aces) got a couple good bounces and a stupid mistake cost us their third goal," Church said, adding that the team has to play smart if they still want to make a push for the playoffs. "We have to win all four (games in Idaho); it's do or die now, we win or go home."
Phoenix out-shot Alaska 31-26. Jones stopped 23 shots but fell to 8-14-2 on the season with the loss. The RoadRunners went 1-6 on the power play while Alaska was 0-4 with the man-advantage.
KELLY CUP PLAYOFF UPDATE: With four games remaining in the regular season, the RoadRunners are still mathematically alive for a spot in the Kelly Cup Playoffs. Phoenix trails fourth place Utah in the West Division by seven points, meaning that the RoadRunners must win their final four games and the Grizzlies must lose their last two games in regulation in order for the RoadRunners to advance. Should Utah earn at least one point, they will eliminate the RoadRunners because Utah holds the tie-breaker, which are head-to-head points (Utah won 11-10). The Grizzlies will host Alaska Friday and Saturday. Meanwhile, under the newly revised National Conference playoff format, Phoenix is also still alive for the last playoff spot in the Pacific Division. In that scenario, the RoadRunners would have to win their last four games and Bakersfield would have to lose their last two games in regulation. The two clubs would finish with identical .493% winning percentages, which is the determining factor regarding who advances, but the RoadRunners would clinch because they own the tie-breaker against the Condors winning the head-to-head points battle 10-8. Bakersfield hosts Ontario Friday and Saturday. Any Phoenix loss would automatically eliminate the RoadRunners from playoff contention.
HOME SWEET HOME: Despite losing their regular season home finale, the RoadRunners finished with their best home record in four seasons in the ECHL going 17-16-3 at US Airways Center. Phoenix averaged 3.22 goals per game at home and sported the league's sixth best home penalty kill at 85.7% and the 11th best home power play at 17.7%.
NO JONES-ING AROUND IN MARCH: Rookie goalie Kyle Jones has ranked among the ECHL's best goalies in March. Jones sports the league's fifth best save percentage this month at .934% and the eighth best goals against average at 2.22. Since Craig Kowalski was loaned to Norfolk of the American Hockey League back in early February, Jones is 7-6-1 in 14 starts with a 1.97 goals against average and a .934% save percentage.
NEWS & NOTES: Center Daniel Sisca has seven goals, 10 assists, and 17 points in his last 16 games...Forward Chase Trull tallied a goal and an assist in his 200th career professional game Wednesday at Utah...The RoadRunners captured the season series 5-4 from Utah and are now 17-17-2 lifetime in 36 games against the Grizzlies. Phoenix dropped the season series to Alaska 2-4-2...Captain Mitch Carefoot has set new career bests in goals (15), assists (24), and points (39). Carefoot is the only RoadRunners' player to have appeared in all 68 games this season.
WATCH THE 'RUNNERS LIVE IN '08-09: The RoadRunners have teamed up with B2 Networks to bring you live action of Phoenix RoadRunners hockey in 2008-09. RoadRunners fans will be able to click the "Watch Online" link at www.phxroadrunners.com to view and listen to the game. These broadcasts are available to fans for a charge of $6 per game. All 72 RoadRunners broadcasts will be available on-line. A cable or DSL Internet connection and Windows Media Player 9 are required to view the games.
UP NEXT: The RoadRunners close out the 2008-09 regular season with a four-game series at Idaho at 6:10 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday from Qwest Arena in downtown Boise. Catch Friday and Saturday's action on Independent 1310 KXAM and all four games live at www.phxroadrunners.com beginning with "RoadRunners Countdown" twenty minutes prior to face-off. Information on season tickets, half-season packages, and flex plans for the 2008-09 season of Phoenix RoadRunners Hockey are available by calling (602) 462-GOAL.
PHOENIX ROADRUNNERS SCHEDULE WEEK OF MARCH 30TH
Monday, March 30: Travel day to Boise, Idaho
Tuesday, March 31: Morning skate 10:15AM-11:15AM; Phoenix @ Idaho 6:10PM
Wednesday, April 1: Morning skate 10:15AM-11:15AM; Phoenix @ Idaho 6:10PM
Thursday, April 2: Off Day
Friday, April 3: Morning skate 10:15AM-11:15AM; Phoenix @ Idaho 6:10PM
Saturday, April 4: Morning skate 10:15AM-11:15AM; Phoenix @ Idaho 6:10PM
Sunday, April 5: Travel day to Phoenix
END OF REGULAR SEASON
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