The Tucson Roadrunners return to action Friday night in Game 4 of the Pacific Division Semi Finals vs the San Jose Barracuda. Tucson currently holds a 2-1 series lead over San Jose and can advance to the second round with just one more win.
The Roadrunners dominated the Barracuda in their last matchup earlier this week, blanking their opponents 6-0 in the team’s first ever home playoff game. They played the first two games of the series at the SAP Center in San Jose, where they split the series with a 4-2 win last Thursday and a 6-3 loss on Saturday.
After Wednesday’s game Roadrunners head coach Mike Van Ryn broke down what was different in the team’s return home.
“It was playoffs for the first time for a lot of our guys,” he said. “I don’t think they really knew what to expect and I thought we sat back a little bit in those games.”
And despite the Roadrunners commanding performance on Wednesday, Van Ryn said he thought the game was closer than what reflected on the scoreboard, adding that San Jose has been playing Tucson tough all season long.
“(San Jose) plays hard to the end,” he said. “Their coach (Roy Sommer) is a fiery guy and that goes through that lineup. And they play hard no matter what the score is… what the game is. That’s a team that every time I watch them, they play hard. That’s a good sign and that’s why they’re tough to beat at any point in the year, especially in the playoffs.”
Both games four and five* (if necessary) will be in Tucson and – as was the case on Wednesday – the Roadrunners will be continuing the white-out tradition carried over from the Coyotes/Jets team history. And, when asked about Wednesday’s white-out and arena atmosphere, Van Ryn said he was very pleased with the turnout.
“It was awesome… super loud… It was great,” Van Ryn said. “Actually with all that white stuff the rink seems a lot brighter. And you know what, the fans are great. No matter what all year, this is a louder building than what you would think, and I thought the atmosphere was awesome. I hope people see what it can be like and how much fun the games are and we still get more people in.”
The puck will drop for game 4 between the Roadrunners and Barracuda, at 7:05pm at the Tucson Convention Center.