Roadrunners Fall One Goal, One Point Short of Playoff Berth
The Roadrunners' season came to an unfortunate end following Saturday night's 4-3 loss to the San Diego Gulls in front of a sold out crowd of 6,521 at Tucson Arena.
A devastating end to a season it was for a Tucson roster that embodied resilience, perseverance, and character.
Tucson needed just one point to secure its second straight Calder Cup playoff berth, but came up one goal short, their ferocious comeback attempt in the final stages of regulation not enough to extend the contest to overtime.
"One goal short, that's about as close as it gets," said captain Dakota Mermis. "It stings, when you look back, there were a lot of guys that when we had to make a push, we did. One goal short really hurts, we expected to be playing next weekend, but it's a different story now."
Tucson, which found itself 11 points out of the playoff picture in the third week of March, put forth a tremendous effort to claw its way back into the fight.
"Getting close isn't winning, you come here to win, the guys in that locker room want to win, you saw it every night in their efforts," said head coach Jay Varady. "That's our attitude in terms of how we go about our business. We wanted to be moving on today and we're not. We pushed back, we got close, but it's not good enough."
It was almost one year ago to the day, in the same building, that the Roadrunners eliminated the Gulls on the final day of the 2017-18 regular campaign.
This time, the opposite.
Following a scoreless opening frame, the Gulls struck to get on the board just under five minutes into the second to take a 1-0 lead.
With 8:54 to play in the second period, Nick Merkley dropped for Lane Pederson after entering San Diego territory. With an open avenue toward the net, Pederson drove and beat Jeff Glass up high, tying the score 1-1.
Pederson's goal, his 23rd of the season, tied the Roadrunners' single-season franchise record set by both Michael Bunting and Mike Sislo during in 2017-18.
With about five minutes to play in the second, the Colorado Eagles' 3-2 win over the San Jose Barracuda went final - bumping the Eagles back into the Pacific's fourth and final playoff spot, confirming that the Roadrunners would in fact need one point to secure a postseason berth.
Moments thereafter, the Gulls scored twice in a 2:23 span to take a 3-1 lead. San Diego extended its lead to 4-1 just over five minutes into the third.
In desperation mode, Conor Garland got the Roadrunners back to within two with 13:56 to play, burying a shot to the top right corner after gaining possession of a Mermis point shot that ricochet off of bodies in front of the net.
Down 4-2 with Adin Hill pulled from the net for an extra attacker, Garland struck yet again, getting the Roadrunners to within a goal with 1:14 left on the clock, tucking home a rebound while positioned to the left side of the Gulls' net.
That's as close as Tucson would get.
"It stinks, obviously," Garland said of the loss. "There've been eight seeds [in the NHL] that go on to win the cup, four seeds [in the AHL] that do the same. If you get in, you have a chance, and we were a goal short, so it stings."
Garland registered a total of six points (4G, 2A) in his three games back in the AHL.
The Roadrunners finished the 2018-19 season with a 36-26-5-3 record, good for 76 standings points.
• Discuss this story on the American Hockey League message board...
American Hockey League Stories from April 14, 2019
- Heat Fall 3-2 on Fan Appreciation Night - Stockton Heat
- Condors Claim Top Spot in Western Conference with 3-2 Win - Bakersfield Condors
- Carter Verhaeghe, Alex Barre-Boulet Win AHL Scoring Races - Syracuse Crunch
- Syracuse's Carter Verhaeghe, Alex Barre-Boulet Win American Hockey League Scoring Races - AHL
- Wolves Open Calder Cup Playoffs against Grand Rapids - Chicago Wolves
- First-Round Schedules Announced for 2019 Calder Cup Playoffs - AHL
- Iowa Wild Announces First Round Playoff Schedule - Iowa Wild
- Admirals Face Iowa in Calder Cup Playoffs - Milwaukee Admirals
- Griffins, Wolves to Renew Rivalry in Central Division Semifinals - Grand Rapids Griffins
- Sifers Final Game Ends with a Shootout Win - Utica Comets
- Moose Close Season by Beating Chicago, 6-2 - Manitoba Moose
- IceHogs Announce 2018-19 Team Awards - Rockford IceHogs
- Wolf Pack End Season with 3-1 Setback to Hershey - Hartford Wolf Pack
- Wolves Wrap Regular Season - Chicago Wolves
- Crunch Edged by Comets, 4-3, in Shootout - Syracuse Crunch
- Bears Finish Regular Season on High Note, Win 3-1 - Hershey Bears
- Eddie Pasquale Wins AHL's Harry "Hap" Homes Memorial Award - Syracuse Crunch
- Syracuse's Eddie Pasquale Wins AHL's Harry "Hap" Holmes Memorial Award - AHL
- P-Bruins Fall 6-1 to T-Birds in Regular Season Finale - Providence Bruins
- Syracuse Crunch to Face Cleveland Monsters in North Division Semifinals - Syracuse Crunch
- Cleveland Monsters Clinch Playoff Berth - Cleveland Monsters
- Penguins Victorious in Season Finale, 5-2 - Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins
- Monsters Clinch Playoff Berth with Commanding 5-1 Win over Marlies - Cleveland Monsters
- Tyler Wong Wins Dan Snyder Man of the Year Award - Chicago Wolves
- Amerks Close out Regular Season with 4-2 Win in Belleville, Tie Franchise Record for Road Wins - Rochester Americans
- Roadrunners Fall One Goal, One Point Short of Playoff Berth - Tucson Roadrunners
- Devils Lose Season Finale to Penguins, 5-2 - Binghamton Devils
- T-Birds Cap 2018-19 Season with Explosive 6-1 Win in Providence - Springfield Thunderbirds
- Sens Fall to Amerks in Regular Season Finale - Belleville Senators
- Heat Host Condors in Season Finale - Stockton Heat
- Tampa Bay Lightning Recall Defenseman Cameron Gaunce from Syracuse Crunch - Syracuse Crunch
- Marlies Close out Regular Season against Monsters - Toronto Marlies
- Game Preview: Wolf Pack at Bears, 5 p.m. - Hershey Bears
- Capitals Recall Vitek Vanecek from Hershey, Re-Assign Ilya Samsonov - Hershey Bears
- Game Day Build-Up: Senators vs. Americans, April 14 - Belleville Senators
- Reign Closes Door on 2018-19 Season - Ontario Reign
The opinions expressed in this release are those of the organization issuing it, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.
Other Recent Tucson Roadrunners Stories
- Join the Roadrunners June 22-23 at TCC Kid's Fair
- Coyotes Sign Russo to One-Year Two-Way Contract
- Coyotes Sign Russo to One-Year Contract
- Roadrunners to Hold Stanley Cup Watch Party at Culinary Dropout
- Roadrunners Announce Opening Night and Additional Dates for 2019-20