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Roadrunners look to bounce back against first place Barracuda

After losing three straight, Tucson heads to battle in San Jose

Photo courtesy of Tucson Roadrunners

The Tucson Roadrunners (15-8-2-1, 2nd Pacific) return to action this weekend at the SAP Center to face the first place, San Jose Barracuda (16-4-1-3, 1st Pacific)

The Barracuda were riding an 10-game point streak— and for a while held the moniker of the hottest team in the AHL — until their ultimate 6-1 defeat to the San Diego Gulls on Wednesday. In fact, up until then, they didn’t lose a game in regulation since November 10, when the Roadrunners completed a sweep over San Jose with a 1-0 shutout victory.

The Roadrunners, on the other hand, are facing a 3-game losing streak; losing to Colorado at home last Wednesday, followed by two weekend losses to the Chicago Wolves just days later.

This weekend will be the fourth and fifth games between Tucson and San Jose this season, and the second time the Roadrunners visit the Bay Area.

This time around, both teams have quite a bit to watch out for.

Nick Merkley — who returned to the ice after a long period of recovery last Wednesday — will be playing against the team he last played against before suffering his season ending lower body injury in March of this year. He’s now had a couple of games to warm up, so he’s looking to be in good shape come this weekend.

Meanwhile, goaltenders Hunter Miska and Merrick Madsen look to turn things around after combing for 9-goals-against in the last three games. The last time Madsen played against San Jose, he recorded Tucson’s longest shutout streak in back-to-back regular season games (two complete games, 120:00).

This Friday is the Barracuda’s own teddy bear toss night. Tucson held their teddy bear toss night two weeks ago against the Ontario Reign and collected around 5,500 teddy bears for charity.

These are the last games of for both teams before the holidays, and Tucson will return to action back home next week on December 28, when they host the Stockton Heat.