Each July when the American Hockey League schedule is released something that most Roadrunners fans have become accustomed to looking for is where the annual mid-February “Gem Show Road Trip” will take the club over their roughly two weeks away from Southern Arizona.
Last year it included non-division opponents such as Rockford and Texas, travels that led to the central portion of the United States. This year it was a little taste of everything, meeting all other six Pacific Division teams over the course of 13 days.
Now, as the team travels back from California to the Grand Canyon State today, the trip concludes and now the attention turns to the “home stretch” of the regular season.
Only 19 games remain in the regular season and postseason play looms just around the corner. Exciting times.
For now, let’s recap how the trip wound down with it’s stops in Colorado, Stockton and San Jose.
Tuesday at Colorado (5-2 Loss)
In the hours leading up to Tuesday’s contest it was announced by the Coyotes that the NHL had approved a two-game extension to the conditioning loan of Barrett Hayton, thus allowing him to play in both games of the midweek set in Loveland.
While this was welcomed news, Hayton’s presence couldn’t stop the Eagles from scoring three times on the power play, nor could it stop his team from scoring the ever-seldom “own goal”. Oh yes, all of that happened.
Colorado started the contest with a power play goal as the only tally of the first period and despite Brayden Burke tying the contest with a goal for Tucson on the man advantage, a bit of deflation came following that referenced “own goal”. With a delayed penalty to the Eagles coming, the Roadrunners slowed up an attack at the Eagles’ blue line and spun to set up a controlled entry with Ivan Prosvetov making his way to the bench. The problem was that both defenseman turned at the same time, thus missing the pass headed their way and it slid all the way down the ice into the empty net to give the home team a 2-1 lead.
Unfortunately Tucson wouldn’t recover from that, as a late second power play goal, an insurance goal in the third and yet another special teams tally provided the storyline that it’s tough to win a game when allowing three power play goals.
Wednesday at Colorado (5-2 Win)
24 hours later the two sides went back at it again and after Tuesday night’s deflation, a goal allowed on the very first shot of the evening looked as if things may not go any better for Tucson.
Thankfully though, that was far from the case, as the Roadrunners would turn around and score three unanswered before the end of the first to take total command of the game.
The two teams traded goals in the second and a bouncer from Jordan Gross wrapped up the scoring as the team got back on track with a decisive win before heading back to the Golden Coast.
Additionally, Ivan Prosvetov was solid, allowing just two on 33 shots.
Saturday at Stockton (4-3 Shootout Loss)
After Wednesday’s inspiring performance, a travel day and a practice at the University of Denver Friday, the team got back to action three days later against the Calgary Flames’ AHL affiliate.
Unfortunately the same troubles that plagued Tucson in the opener in Colorado haunted them in Stockton.
After coming out and dominating the first half of the first period, two power play chances then resulted in two goals for the Heat. In the second period it became three for three.
Two goals in just 61 seconds allowed Tucson to tie the game, including the second of the night from Andy Miele, forced overtime, thus getting Tucson at least a point in which they once again allowed three power play goals.
Stockton would take the extra point by way of two successful tries in the shootout, however, the team battling back to earn a point in a game in which they may not have been most proud of was a positive.
Monday at San Jose (6-3 Loss)
In search of a win to conclude the trip, Tucson was behind the eight ball early, allowing two goals in the first 65 seconds in San Jose.
It wouldn’t dictate the outcome of the game; thanks to a pair of goals from Hudson Fasching and Jordan Gross the Roadrunners would tie the game at 2-2 early in the second.
Missed opportunities on the power play by Tucson and momentum generated by way of successful penalty kills for the Barracuda were the X-Factor though, as just seconds after nearly four straight minutes of time on the man advantage by the Roadrunners concluded without a score, San Jose cashed in to take the lead back.
They’d score another 2:14 later while on a five-on-three and tacking on two more in the third, Tucson’s trip ended in a 6-3 defeat.
Where They Stand
Record: 30-16-1-2 (63 Points / .643 Win Percentage)
Pacific Division: First Place / Second Place
Western Conference: Third Place / Third Place
The Week That Was
Tuesday, February 11
Roadrunners (2) at Eagles (5)
Budweiser Events Center
Wednesday, February 12
Roadrunners (5) at Eagles (2)
Budweiser Events Center
Saturday, February 15
Roadrunners (3) at Stockton (4) – SO
Monday, February 17
Roadrunners (3) at San Jose (6)
Up & Down
Wednesday, February 13
- Defenseman Aaron Ness loaned to Tucson by Arizona (NHL).
- Forward Barrett Hayton recalled from conditioning loan by Arizona (NHL).
Tuesday, February 18
- Defenseman Aaron Ness recalled from loan by Arizona (NHL).
Alumni In Action
Last week we talked about Conor Garland getting his 17th, 18th, and 19thNHL goals, now this week we can talk about him becoming the first member of the Coyotes to score 20 goals in a season since 2017-18.
He’s taking the NHL by storm and we’re proud to call him a Roadrunners alumnus. Did we mention how excited we are for Conor Garland Bobblehead Night on March 14?
In The System
As Rapid City continues to cling on to the fourth and final playoff spot in the ECHL’s Mountain Division, defenseman Ryker Killins added another assist for the club in their series split with the Allen Americans.
The first-year pro now has 17 points in 40 games with the Rush this season.
Highlight Of The Week
Last night Hudson Fasching took matters into his own hands to get Tucson on the board in San Jose.
He makes the simple play of getting the puck deep, then stays after it before simply outmuscling his man off the puck, turning, firing and scoring from a weird angle. All around impressive stuff.