Game One – Tucson Roadrunners at Coachella Valley Firebirds
7:00 p.m. MST, Acrisure Arena, Palm Desert, California
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Referees: Jordan Deckard (14) Stan Szczurek (73)
Linespersons: Mitchell Hunt (62) Brett Martin (37)
First Round Schedule:
Game One: Wednesday, April 19, 7:00 p.m. MST
Game Two: Friday, April 21, 7:00 p.m. MST
Game Three: Sunday, April 23, 3:00 p.m. MST (if necessary)
The Tucson Roadrunners open the 2023 Calder Cup Playoffs on Wednesday with the first matchup against the Coachella Valley Firebirds in a best-of-three series taking place on the road at the Acrisure Arena in Palm Desert. The Roadrunners and the AHL affiliate of the Seattle Kraken faced off eight times during the 2022-2023 regular season, most recently on February 15 at the Acrisure Arena. Coachella Valley finished their first year in the AHL with the second-best record in the league (48-17-5-2) but enter the postseason having dropped each of their final two regular season outings against the fifth-seeded Bakersfield Condors.
1) Tucson found success on special-teams against Coachella Valley this season with a 21.7 (10-for-46) power-play percentage and 82.5 (33-for-40) penalty-kill percentage, as both would rank as the eighth best overall in the American Hockey League. The Roadrunners set a single-game franchise record on December 13 with five power-play goals against the Firebirds that was paired with a perfect five-for-five mark on the penalty-kill. In that game, Coachella Valley jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the opening 6:48 of the contest before the Roadrunners rallied back to win 7-2, which is tied for their second most goals scored in a game and the second largest margin of victory on the year.
2) Leading the season series in scoring between the Roadrunners and Firebirds is Tucson forward Mike Carcone, who has totaled seven goals and four assists for 11 points through eight meetings on the year. Carcone’s seven goals against Coachella Valley gave the 26-year-old his third-straight season with at least seven goals and a hat trick against a single opponent, as he recorded his fifth career AHL hat trick and fourth with Tucson on December 13. He previously tallied eight goals and a hat trick in eight games against the Ontario Reign in 2021-2022 and lit the lamp seven times with a four-goal performance against the San Diego Gulls in 2020-2021. #CarconeMVP. Also at a point per-game average against the Firebirds is forward Jan Jenik, who scored a pair of goals in his only outing of the season at Acrisure Arena on December 18. Jenik registered five total points (2g 3a) in five efforts against Coachella Valley this season, and enters the postseason with nine points (2g 7a) in seven games since returning to the Roadrunners lineup after missing 37 consecutive contests due to injury.
3) Since Tucson and Coachella Valley last met at the Acrisure Arena on February 15, the Roadrunners earned standings points in seven of their final ten road games of the regular season with a record of 5-3-1-1. A key for Tucson will be getting off to a hot start in the best-of-three set, as they were 8-4-1-0 this season in the first night of a multi-game series on the road. The Roadrunners will also look to benefit from being off since Saturday night after finishing the regular season with an 8-1-0-1 road record when getting 2-3 days of rest with a 14-3-0-1 mark overall. Tucson finished the year tied for the fourth most goals scored on the road in the AHL Pacific Division with 103, while the Roadrunners and Firebirds represent the First Round Playoff matchup with the most combined regular season goals in the Western Conference at 476.
What’s The Word?
“I think when our lineup is healthy, we get the necessary saves, and everyone is pulling on the same rope, we’re a hard team to play against. The record doesn’t indicate the type of finish we had [to the regular season]. We had some really solid outings, and there was a lot of energy and attention to our identity in those last 20 games.”Roadrunners Head Coach Steve Potvin on Tucson entering the postseason having earned standings points in seven of their final ten contests on the road.
Number to Know
7 – The number of times the Roadrunners wore their new White Kachina Alternate Jerseys during the 2022-2023 regular season, all while on their home ice. Tucson earned standings points in five of the seven outings, including in each of their final three Kachina Saturdays of the year. The Roadrunners will don their White Kachinas for the First Round of the Playoffs after wearing them during several memorable moments of the regular season, including: a three-goal comeback over the San Jose Barracuda in the Jersey debut on November 19, Travis Barron scoring Tucson’s Teddy Bear Toss goal on December 10, J.S. Dea netting his first professional hat trick on January 28, and when the Roadrunners overcame a 4-0 deficit to force overtime and clinch a playoff berth on April 8 against Texas.
We’re Doing It Live
Tonight’s game will be broadcast live on AHLtv, as well as on the radio on FOX Sports 1450AM and the iHeartRadio app. Coverage begins at 6:45 with Roadrunners Warm-Up hosted by Jimmy Peebles, before “Voice of the Roadrunners” Adrian Denny has all the action from the Acrisure Arena. The game will also be shown at the Roadrunners FREE Playoff Watch Party at Main Event on South Landing Way, along with food and drink specials, discounted play cards, prize raffles and more available for fans in attendance.