Tucson Roadrunners forward Tye McGinn knows what it’s like to go far in the American Hockey League playoffs.
One year ago, McGinn was part of a Syracuse Crunch team that reached the Calder Cup Finals before losing to Grand Rapids in six games.
McGinn joined the Roadrunners mid-season and found the group to have many of the core ingredients to make an eventual postseason run.
Tucson will open the playoffs Thursday against the Barracuda in San Jose. The teams will play again Saturday before the best-of-five series returns to the Old Pueblo.
“We’re very resilient. We work hard on pucks,” McGinn said. “You’ve got to have goaltending. You’ve got to play your own game. It really doesn’t matter who you’re playing with. We’ve got a good couple forwards and our defense is phenomenal.”
Tucson showcased some of its best hockey down the stretch, winning six of its last seven games and widening what was already a comfortable lead in the standings.
Roadrunners coach Mike Van Ryn battled injuries to key scorers Laurent Dauphin and Nick Merkley by turning to veterans like Mike Sislo and Carter Camper down the stretch. Breakout rookie Lawson Crouse stepped up when Dylan Strome was called up to the parent Coyotes. All the while, Tucson counted on consistent defensive showings headed by goalie Adin Hill.
The Roadrunners enter the postseason both deep and confident.
“It was a good year,” Van Ryn said. “Coming in, it was ‘let’s try to make the playoffs and give our young guys a taste of what that’s like.’ They just kept growing. The more they won, they bought in.”
Tucson now faces a San Jose team that barely skated into the playoffs, thanks to the Roadrunners beating San Diego three times down the stretch. The Barracuda have won two of the last three matchups against Tucson, all of which took place in late March.
“It’s going to be a hard-fought series,” Van Ryn said. “They’ve played us well all year. I think we’ve got to be ready for them and maybe put together a better game plan than we have in the past.
“Our execution’s got to be better. We’re getting to work already on it.”