Game #55: Tucson Roadrunners vs. Coachella Valley Firebirds

Game #55: Tucson Roadrunners (31-18-3-2) vs. Coachella Valley Firebirds

Time Saturday, March 9, 7:00 p.m. MST, Acrisure Arena, Palm Desert, California



Tucson Roadrunners Current Roster: CLICK HERE

Referees: #45 Cody Beach #71 Brody Sutter

Linespersons: #4 Jake Fraser, #71 Harrison Heyer

The Tucson Roadrunners head across the Interstate 10 for a one-game match with their desert rival Coachella Valley Firebirds. Tucson this season is 3-2-0-1 in six games versus Coachella Valley; one of the six teams out of nine, the Roadrunners have a winning record against in the Pacific Division. The Roadrunners are undefeated in Acrisure Arena this season at 2-0-0-0; with the most recent as a 4-3 shootout win in which Tucson never led in until Jan Jenik’s game-winning shootout goal on February 2 before the All-Star Break. AHL Pacific Division teams are a combined 126-106-21-14 at home this season including Coachella Valley’s 14-9-2-2 in Acrisure Arena this season. Tucson on the other end has a 17-8-2-1 record on the road which is the 6th best in the AHL in terms of points (37). Also, the Roadrunners look to match their season high unbeaten streak at five games for the third time this season. They set the previous two between November 25-December 12 (4-0-1-0) and December 20-December 30 (5-0-0-0).

Three things:

  1. Tucson’s special teams have been locked in for the team heading into Saturday’s game. Since January 31, Tucson’s power-play has seen a line of 12-for-58 (20%); including the last four-straight games and seven out of eight overall; with a power-play goal. In the recent power-play goal streak, Tucson is 5-for-18 (27.7%) including two goals in Wednesday’s 3-2 victory over the Calgary Wranglers. The penalty kill on the other hand, had its third perfect 7-for-7 game of the season which is the season high for the Roadrunners. Not including Tuesday, the Roadrunners are 16-for-17 in five of their last six games. Tucson’s best special teams stretch this season occured from January 6 and January 17 in five games where they went 5-for-16 (31.2%) on the power-play with a perfect 21-for-21 on the PK. This season versus the Firebirds, the Roadrunners are 4-for-20 on the power-play (20%) and 18-for-20 (90%) on the penalty kill; including 7-for-7 in Acrisure Arena.
  2. On Wednesday, forward Milos Kelemen tied both John Leonard and Austin Poganski for second on the team with three-straight games with a goal. Though his recent line pairing of Aku Raty and Nathan Smith has helped him produce, Kelemen has been an asset for the Roadrunners all season. With his recent goal streak, he is now second on the team behind Josh Doan (22) with 13 goals. This includes two goals versus the Coachella Valley Firebirds who Kelemen has four total points (2 goals, 2 assists) against this season in four games played.
  3. Goaltender Matthew Villalta is slated to start game number 39 this season which puts him at 40 total appearances; tied with former Roadrunner Adin Hill, who played in 40 games in Tucson’s inaugural 2016-17 season. On November 12 at Acrisure Arena, Villalta made a career-high 45 save effort in a 5-3 victory over the Firebirds. In six total starts versus Coachella Valley, Villalta has faced 220 shots; stopping 206 of them (.936 SV %) with a 2.36 goals against average.

What’s the word?

“We must play to be hard on the forecheck with doing everything structured; they play pretty good there; being the first team in the standings so we must play simple with good puck management.”

Tucson forward Milos Kelemen on how Tucson can get to 3-0-0 this season in Acrisure Arena against the Firebirds.

Number to Know:

7- Tucson’s highest player-point streak this season that belongs to both Nathan Smith (2 goals, 8 assists) and Dylan Guenther (3 goals, 5 assists). Aku Raty, who is on a current season-high six game point streak (3 goals, 6 assists) needs another point on Saturday to tie the team-high point streak.

Latest Transactions:

  • On Thursday, March 7, defenseman Patrik Koch was recalled to the Arizona Coyotes; he made his NHL debut that night and led Coyotes defensemen with four hits.
  • On Friday, March 8, defenseman Patrik Koch was reassigned to Tucson and defenseman Victor Soderstrom was recalled to the Arizona Coyotes.


Tonight’s game will be broadcasted live on the radio on FOX Sports 1450AM and the iHeartRadio app. Coverage will begin with Roadrunners Warm-Up hosted by Jonathon Schaffer at 6:45 p.m. MST, before the “Voice of the Roadrunners” Adrian Denny has all the action from Acrisure Arena. The game will also be televised on AHLtv.