The Tucson Roadrunners snapped a three-game losing streak Saturday with a road win over the Ontario Reign.
Now, they’ll try to start a streak of their own.
Tucson will host the Stockton Heat in a two-game weekend series at Tucson Arena. The puck drops at 7:05 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday; the latter game will be “Star Wars Night” at the arena. The team will wear “Star Wars”-themed jerseys, which will be auctioned off after the game. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Roadrunners Give Back.
Roadrunners captain Andrew Campbell said a combination of rest, team cohesion and scheduling factored in to last week’s win. The Roadrunners blasted Ontario 6-1, scoring four of their goals in the final period. The club attempted 51 shots, 15 more than the Reign.
“It was a combination of playing a team in the middle of a tough stretch and we didn’t play on Friday (last week) so we were fresh coming into that game and we got better as the game went on,” Campbell said.
Stockton comes to town with a 14-8-1-2 record and the fourth-highest winning percentage (.620) in the AHL. Tucson (13-7-2-1) carries a .630 winning percentage, which is good enough for second in the AHL, though the Roadrunners have played a league-low 23 games.
The two teams last played Dec. 9, with the Heat rolling to a 5-2 victory at Stockton Arena. Stockton scored the first four goals of the game and added a fifth 19:01 into the third period.
Tucson had no answer for the Stockton offense led by wingers Andrew Mangiapane, Garnet Hathaway and Morgan Klimchuk. Each has scored at least 10 goals, dished out eight assists and sent 45 shots on goal this season.
The Roadrunners will have a difficult time reining in the trio again this weekend.
“They’re fast, a lot like us in many ways, and they have speed coming in from several spots,” Roadrunners goalkeeper Hunter Miska said. “They create offensive chances and are difficult to stop.”
Friday’s matchup between the Roadrunners and Heat should be a crucial matchup for both teams.
Tucson has allowed just 14 goals in the last four games combined. To stop Stockton, Miska said, the Roadrunners must match the Heat’s energy.
“We’ve got to be ready when the puck drops,” Miska said. “Last matchup we spotted them a cushion early on and it’s hard to come back from that.”