The Grand Rapids Series
This weekend in a pair of games against the Grand Rapids Griffins, AHL affiliate of the Detroit Red Wings, the Roadrunners clinched home-ice in the first round of the playoffs with a 3-0 win Friday night. Friday’s win was Roadrunners’ starting goaltender Adin Hill’s 17th win and fourth shutout of the season, besting his 16-win total from last season.
Friday night was a solid all-around effort for the Roadrunners, they came out strong in the first and took a 1-0 lead off of Lawson Crouse’s 11th of the season halfway through the second. Ryan MacInnis would score the Roadrunners’ second of the night five minutes into the third, and Tye McGinn would seal the deal with an empty-net goal in the final minute.
Unfortunately for Tucson, the Roadrunners’ struggles in consecutive home games continued. Despite leading the AHL’s Western Conference and the Pacific Division, the Roadrunners have failed to win consecutive home games since November 11th, 2017. The Roadrunners didn’t play too bad on Saturday; the game’s 4-1 loss was largely the result of goaltending. Grand Rapids’ Tom McCollum stood on his head and the Roadrunners’ back up, Hunter Miska had an off night.
The lone goal-scorer for Tucson on Saturday was Lawson Crouse, who extended his goal streak to two games and his point streak to five. After letting up four goals on 19 shots, for a dismal 0.789 save percentage, Miska was pulled and replaced by Adin Hill. Hill managed to stop the bleeding Saturday night, but the Roadrunners could not get anything going offensively in the latter part of the game, leaving the final score at 4-1 Grand Rapids.
This time of year much of the focus is on the playoff implications of the wins and losses around the league. A few of the results including both of the games against Grand Rapids this weekend had significant Calder Cup Playoff implications.
- Roadrunners clinch home ice in the first round of the playoffs.
With the 3-0 win over Grand Rapids on Friday, the Roadrunners can now finish no lower than second place in the Pacific Division. They had the chance to clinch the Pacific Division Title with a win over Grand Rapids Saturday and with a San Diego win over Ontario, which would have guaranteed home-ice advantage for Tucson in at least the first two rounds of the playoffs.
- San Diego’s 3-2 win over Ontario.
The race for the 2017-18 AHL Pacific Division Title is now a two-horse race between the Roadrunners and the Ontario Reign. All six of the other teams in the Pacific have been mathematically eliminated from contending for the division title. The Ontario loss meant that a win on Saturday would have given the Roadrunners the Pacific Division championship. But, with the Roadrunners loss on Saturday, there is still a slim chance that Ontario will pass them in the standings. For that to happen, Tucson would need to lose all three of its remaining games and Ontario will need to win all three of their remaining games, meaning all Tucson needs is one point out of six in the three remaining games (either a win or an overtime loss) to win the division.
- Grand Rapids clinches.
With the win over Tucson on Saturday, Grand Rapids, the defending Calder Cup Champions clinched their sixth consecutive playoff appearance.
- Texas clinches.
With San Jose’s 7-3 win over the Stockton Heat, the Texas Stars, the fourth-place team in the Pacific clinched a playoff spot. If the Roadrunners manage to win the division, Texas will likely be their first-round opponent.
The Roadrunners will close out the regular season with three consecutive games against the San Diego Gulls. The first game will be in San Diego on Wednesday, April 11th, and the final two will be in Tucson on Friday and Saturday night, April 13th and 14th. After that, the Calder Cup Playoffs will begin.