Firebirds Lead Series 1-0
7:00 p.m. MST, Acrisure Arena, Palm Desert, California
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Referees: Bobby Jo Love (51) Justin Kea (44)
Linespersons: Nikolaus Diehr (31) Joseph Mahon (91)
First Round Schedule:
Game One: Wednesday, April 19 – Firebirds won 5-1
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 take on the Coachella Friday Firebirds Friday night for the second game of a best-of-three series in the First Round of the 2023 Calder Cup Playoffs. The Roadrunners need a win to avoid elimination after the Firebirds took Game One at the Acrisure Arena on Wednesday by a final score of 5-1. Tucson outshot Coachella Valley 46 to 27 on Wednesday while holding the AHL affiliate of the Seattle Kraken to just a power-play goal and an empty-net tally over the final 50:34 of regulation. The Roadrunners also scored the final goal of the series opener when defenseman Vlad Kolyachonok lit the lamp with 1:17 left in the third period.
1) When the Roadrunners and Coachella Firebirds last faced off in a multi-game set at the Acrisure Arena December 18 and 20, the Firebirds won the series opener 4-3 before Tucson battled back to take the series finale by a score of 3-2. Coachella Valley took two out of three series openers in the regular season, but the Roadrunners earned standings points in each of the following games against the Firebirds. Coachella Valley was unable to complete a two-game sweep in five of their final seven sets to close out the regular season dating back to a series split against the Iowa Wild January 26 and 28, while also being swept twice themselves.
2) After Game One on Wednesday, Tucson’s playoff roster features a combined 162 games of AHL Playoff experience. Roadrunners Captain Adam Cracknell leads the way in Calder Cup Playoff experience and scoring with 17 goals and 17 assists for 34 total points across 43 postseason appearances. Next in line is forward J.S. Dea, who has amassed 12 points (6g 6a) in 38 career Calder Cup Playoff games. Eight of Dea’s 12 points came over 15 games last season as he and the Laval Rocket went on a run to the AHL’s Eastern Conference Finals. Forward Mike Carcone brings with him seven goals and seven assists for 14 total points in 20 career playoff matchups, as Carcone and Cracknell were each a Conference Championship away from facing off against each other in the 2019 Calder Cup Finals as members of the Toronto Marlies and San Diego Gulls, respectively.
3) The Roadrunners have outshot their opponent in every playoff win in team history and have won or forced overtime in each playoff game following a multi-goal loss. Tucson also went 2-0-1-0 following a loss by multiple goals over their final 14 games of the regular season, including a 3-2 shootout win over the first-place Calgary Wranglers and a 7-1 road victory over the third-seeded Colorado Eagles. The Roadrunners earned at least a standings point in eight of their last nine multi-game sets to close out the season, as well as in each of their last six series against current Calder Cup Playoff teams. Tucson has not dropped back-to-back games on the road in regulation since their seven-game Gem Show Road Trip in February, and enter Friday looking to become the first Western Conference team to win a Playoff game on the road after all four home teams took their respective Game Ones on Wednesday.
What’s The Word?
“There’s nothing but confidence in this group right now. We had a good day of practice [Thursday], and you can learn from Wednesday but not dwell on it. [Game Two] is another opportunity to rebound from a tough loss like we have all season, and I have all the faith in our group. The guys care about each other and we’re going to give the effort to fight another day.”Roadrunners Captain Adam Cracknell on Tucson’s mentality heading into Game Two against Coachella Valley on Friday.
Number to Know
46 – The number of shots on goal by the Roadrunners in Wednesday’s Game One against the Firebirds, the second most shots allowed by Coachella Valley all season and a Tucson postseason record. The Ontario Reign previously put up 50 shots on the Firebirds in a 3-2 Reign shootout victory on January 8, which represented just the second home loss by Coachella Valley since opening the Acrisure Arena in Palm Desert. Tucson earned the first road win in the history of the Acrisure Arena on December 20, a game where the Roadrunners narrowly outshot the Firebirds 34 to 33 for a 3-2 victory. During the regular season, the Roadrunners went 2-0-1-0 when outshooting Coachella Valley and earned standings points in all five games (2-0-2-1) when they outshot an opponent by at least 17. Wednesday’s Game One saw Tucson outshoot the Firebirds by 19 at a final count of 46 to 27, the largest shots on goal deficit for Coachella Valley all season.
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.