Game #50: Stockton (2) at Tucson (3) – OT
SOG: STK (30) – TUC (38)
PP: STK (1/2) – TUC (1/9)
TUC SCORING: Bennett (9, 10pp), Bunting (10ot)
STK SCORING: Schueneman (3), Pospisil (1pp)
ROADRUNNERS RETURN HOME COMES WITH DRAMATIC OVERTIME WIN
Playing in front of their home fans for the first time in 20 days, Michael Bunting and the Tucson Roadrunners opted to give the Tucson Arena crowd a little extra bang for their buck Friday night, taking a 3-2 overtime win over the Stockton Heat.
In what Head Coach Jay Varady described post-game as an “awkward” contest, Beau Bennett gave the home supporters an early lead to be excited about, finishing a feed from Andy Miele and Kyle Capobianco to begin the contest. It was the first of a pair on the night for the Roadrunners veteran forward.
Tucson’s initial lead would last just 2:12 though, as Stockton would even the contest, beating Ivan Prosvetov to knot the game at 1-1 at the end of one.
The first period not only contained one goal for each side, it also contained one power play chance for both teams, something that would develop into much more of a prominent storyline during the middle 20 minutes.
Six penalties for the Heat over the course of 11:34 resulted in over ten minutes of power play time for Tucson, providing ample situations for the Roadrunners to take the lead.
In turn though, it was Stockton who took their first lead of the night on the power play, jamming home a second effort to go ahead 2-1.
Over the course of the Gem Show Road Trip, unconverted power play chances haunted the team, resulting in a few unfavorable results. However, the return home brought a new fate and similar to the essence of how Stockton cut Tucson’s first period lead short, the Roadrunners answered the Heat’s second tally with a man advantage chance of their own just 3:21 via Bennett’s second of the night.
Entering the attacking end, Brayden Burke shuffled a pass to Andy Miele, who then created a rebound for Bennett off of a shot, one of which the wily forward whacked it out of midair to create a tie on the scoreboard once again.
In the third, which only contained one penalty, the two sides combined for 20 shots on goal, ten chances each, however, defense prevailed and overtime became necessary.
With both teams earning a point, the only chance of overtime came just 1:31 in, the game-winning goal from Michael Bunting for Tucson.
Concluding a shift spent almost entirely in the Stockton end, Michael Chaput and Kyle Capobianco cycled the puck around before Bunting, from below the goal line, banked one off of Jon Gillies, who was just far enough out of his crease, still adjusting from a Capobianco try, and in.
The win allows Tucson to maintain first place in the Pacific, their fifth win in six tries against Stockton this season.
The Roadrunners and Heat will square off again tomorrow night at Tucson Arena at 7 p.m.
THEY SAID IT
“I saw him slide out of position a bit, so I thought I’d either get someone in front or bank it in. Obviously I got it and I blacked out a bit on the celebration, but all in all, I think we played a really solid game and we’re really happy to get the two points.”Roadrunners overtime hero Michael Bunting describing his game-winning goal and what it means to the team.
DON’T OVERLOOK IT
Goaltender Ivan Prosvetov was very strong again tonight for Tucson, stopping 28 of 30 in an effort of which the team needed him to bail them out several times.
There was both a crucial two-on-one and a breakaway in which felt like a high-scoring Stockton team would be cashing in on, however, Ivan played large and backstopped his club to his 14th win of the season.
GOTTA SEE IT
Although both of Beau Bennett’s goals were worth a glance, the overtime winner is tonight’s must-see highlight.
It takes a certain player to be able to have the wit and vision to attempt to bank a shot in off of a goalie in overtime from below the goal line, knowing that if he fails, it’s a 180-foot odd-man rush the other way. Michael Bunting though, is that certain type of player.
PHOTO OF THE GAME
With just seconds remaining in the second period Stockton thought they had their third goal of the evening following a scrum in front. In what surely would’ve dictated the momentum to at least start the third, referee Olivier Gouin (#54) determined following official review that the puck did not gross the goal line, thus keeping things locked at 2-2.