After splitting last weekend’s home series against the San Diego Gulls, the Tucson Roadrunners missed the chance to qualify for the Calder Cup Playoffs for the second straight season by only one point.
After losing on the road to Bakersfield on Wednesday, the Roadrunners needed to win both of their games against the San Diego Gulls last Friday and Saturday nights to punch their postseason tickets for a second straight year. Friday night, with a 4-3 overtime win, the Roadrunners kept their postseason hopes alive.
With the overtime win on Friday, Tucson controlled their own destiny, having a one-point lead in the standings over the Colorado Eagles for the Pacific Division’s fourth and final playoff spot, heading into their last game of the season on Saturday night. To get into the postseason, the Roadrunners either had to win their game against San Diego or Colorado had to lose their game against the San Jose Barracuda on Saturday.
Unfortunately for Tucson, they lost 4-3 in regulation on Saturday night, and the Eagles won their game against San Jose 3-2, giving Colorado the playoff spot. Colorado will play the division-champion Bakersfield Condors in a first round best-of-five series.
Despite the disappointment of not making the playoffs, the Roadrunners had a lot to be proud of this year given the slew of injuries the Arizona Coyotes organization faced this year. Because the Coyotes, Tucson’s NHL affiliate, had more injuries than any other team in the NHL this year, the Roadrunners lost many of their best players including Conor Garland, Mario Kempe, and Adin Hill to NHL call-ups for large stretches of the season this year.
The fact that the Roadrunners were missing many of their best players and were still fighting for a playoff spot right down to the last game of the season speaks to how well Tucson played this year in the face of adversity.