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Tucson Roadrunners clinch spot in the Calder Cup Playoffs

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Tucson Roadrunners clinch spot in the Calder Cup Playoffs

Roadrunners wait for play to begin

Roadrunners wait for play to begin

Zach McCook/SCC

Roadrunners wait for play to begin

Zach McCook/SCC

Zach McCook/SCC

Roadrunners wait for play to begin

Sarah Hall, Reporter

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The Tucson Roadrunners have clinched a playoff spot for the first time as a franchise on Saturday, March 31.

The American Hockey League affiliate of the Arizona Coyotes missed the playoffs their first year as a franchise in 2017. The team was purchased and relocated from Springfield, Mass. in the summer of 2016.

The Roadrunners are currently first in the Pacific Division and have a chance to clinch the division title this weekend. They are currently in fourth place in the league standings with a .651 percent winning record. The AHL uses win percentage to determine league standings due to the difference in games played between divisions.

The team is led by first-year Head Coach Mike Van Ryn, a former NHL player turned coach. This is his first head coaching job in the American Hockey League. His first head coaching position was with the Ontario Hockey League’s Kitchener Rangers.

The season has not been an easy one for the Roadrunners. Nick Merkley, a first-year player, has been in and out of the line up with injury. His season is currently over due to a lower-body injury. They have also lost Dylan Strome for the time being to the Arizona Coyotes, whose season is over after Saturday, April 7. Strome will most likely return to the Roadrunners for their playoff run after the Coyotes season is over.

The strength of the Roadrunners comes from their goaltending. Goaltenders Adin Hill (16-11-4) and Hunter Miska (21-8-0) have lead the team with their outstanding goaltending performances.

With many players seasons winding down in the Canadian Hockey League, the Roadrunners could soon see more talent pour into their line-up. The likes of forward Tyler Steenbergen and defenseman Cam Dineen could, if their teams are eliminated from the Memorial Cup Playoffs, be seen soon by the team.

The Roadrunners have five games left this season. Their last home game coming April 14 against the San Diego Gulls.

After the April 14, the run to the Calder Cup begins, and the Roadrunners have their eyes on the prize. Now they wait to see who they will play in the first round.

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Tucson Roadrunners clinch spot in the Calder Cup Playoffs