One of the reasons that the Tucson Roadrunners were able to get out to such a hot start in their inaugural season was 20-year-old Brendan Perlini.
The former first-round draft pick of the Arizona Coyotes had never played at the AHL level, but he took the league by storm, notching 16 points (11G, 5A) in his first 16 games, including six power play goals.
“I definitely have (felt more comfortable),” Perlini told me after the team’s most recent home game. “You just get used to your linemates and stuff. Obviously it was early days, and it’s tough to tell where those guys are going on the ice. But as you get used to your linemates and all that kind of stuff, it’s just getting more comfortable out there.”
“Staying hungry and wanting to get better every day, and want to improve, and hopefully go up to the NHL.”
Now, he’s moving on to the NHL as the Tucson squad starts to struggle a bit for the first time all year.
Perlini’s first NHL game occurred on Monday, where he was placed on the Coyotes’ third line. He didn’t record a point, but did take a penalty in 13:45 of ice time, and got this cool moment before the game:
Back in Tucson, the Roadrunners have now dropped four of their last five games, and fell out of first place in the Pacific Division for the first time in 37 days. The last three games were especially bad, as the team was outscored 14-2.
“It was real tough,” head coach Mark Lamb said of the road trip. “We’ve got a lot of work to do. It’s not really surprising at all, we’re going through a stretch where we’ve got to figure some things out, we’ve got to find some chemistry within the lines, within the team, we’ve got a lot going up, down, and up right now. Every other team goes through it, we’re going through it right now, and we’ve got to figure it out. We’ll work hard at it and do it.”
Some of the new names on the team when they return home for a couple of midweek games this week are Laurent Dauphin and Anthony DeAngelo. DeAngelo has already appeared in eight games with Tucson, putting up a goal and six assists before heading up to the Coyotes.
Dauphin, in 66 games with Springfield (AHL) last season, finished 7th on the team in points scored with 24 (11G, 13A).— Alexander Kinkopf (@AEKinkopf) December 4, 2016
When the Roadrunners return to the ice Wednesday with these two guys, it seems likely that DeAngelo will be paired up with Jarred Tinordi, and Dauphin will be on the first forward line with Chris Mueller and Christian Fischer.
The Roadrunners play at home against the Ontario Reign on Wednesday and Friday, with both games scheduled to drop the puck at 7:05 PM MT. During Friday’s game, the team will have its first-ever Teddy Bear Toss, benefiting Aviva Children’s Services. U of A has been doing this for a few years now, so hopefully those that have been going to those games know to only throw their stuffed animals after the Roadrunners’ first goal.
- The AHL announced its All-Star Game format on Tuesday. Each division will have their own teams in a 3-on-3 round robin tournament, with the two best divisions moving on to the Championship. That will take place in Allentown, PA on January 30th.
- Hershey’s Teddy Bear Toss ended up having 20,662 toys. High standard set there.
- After Friday’s home game, the team is off for another week before playing the San Antonio Rampage in Texas on December 16th.
- Craig Cunningham remains in a hospital as he slowly recovers from the medical event he suffered in pregame warmups
- Defenseman Kyle Wood is just two points away from the rookie lead in The AHL. Here’s what I wrote about him last week
- I will continue to improve our Tucson Roadrunners landing page, but go ahead and bookmark that as we fill in the gap between football and baseball season with more hockey coverage