All-star additions, transactions, season debuts and more. It was another wild week for the league’s best Tucson Roadrunners.
Before the group even took the ice on the weekend, the good news continued to come to the club that has enjoyed a great deal of it through the first three-plus months, as the American Hockey League announced it’s additions to it’s All-Star Classic, naming Brayden Burke to the Pacific Division roster.
A well-deserved honor for the second-year pro who totaled 33 points in his rookie season, and had already eclipsed that total before the midway point of this campaign.
With Burke’s ticket to Ontario January 26-27 being punched, Tucson now becomes just the second team in the league with four representatives at the event, joining Milwaukee, the league’s second best team. At this moment, Head Coach Jay Varady will be headed to the event with Burke, Lane Pederson and Kyle Capobianco.
Friday at San Diego (4-1 Loss)
When the team did get to game action, the weekend opener became one to put in the past.
The team was confident going into “America’s Finest City” after having a full week of practice at Tucson Arena, working on details before the third I-8 Rivalry meeting of the season.
They looked ready, getting a possession-based start and headed back down the tunnel after 20 as the better team, but it was their best period of the night and things eventually went downhill.
An opening goal from Cam Dineen in the middle frame was well executed and setup by Andy Miele and Brayden Burke, but before the period ended, Tucson found themselves on the wrong side of a five-on-three that led to not one but two goals for the Gulls, springing them from behind to ahead in just 90 seconds.
A couple of defensive lapses led to two more goals for San Diego and with no additional offense, Tucson was sent out of Pechanga Arena with a 4-1 defeat.
Goaltender Tyler Parks, who made his second AHL start after winning his first one in Colorado, suffered the loss, allowing four goals on 30 shots. Certainly though, he was not to blame for the defeat.
Saturday at Ontario (2-1 Overtime Win)
23 hours later and along the same lines of last weekend, a subpar Friday turned into a great Saturday for the group.
For the third straight game it was a good start for Tucson, bringing high energy from the opening puck drop, resulting in an early power play.
In perhaps the cleanest and most well-executed special teams strike the team has had in quite some time, Hudson Fasching’s second effort on the doorstep in front culminated an “around the horn” of puck passing after Beau Bennett started the effort with a faceoff win. Up 1-0, it was an outstanding “first five” for the visiting side.
The lead vanished quickly though, as Ontario would respond with a goal of their own just four minutes later, evening the contest on their second shot of the night.
Tied just eight minutes in, the scoring took a backseat for a long time then, as first-year goaltenders Ivan Prosvetov, who was making his return to game action for the first time in two weeks and Matthew Villalta of Ontario took center stage in a goaltending battle.
Both turned away 20+ consecutive shots each through the remainder of the contest, which eventually needed overtime.
In the extra frame, a tremendous defensive effort by Robbie Russo shutdown an Ontario bid and began a transition play for Tucson guided by Andy Miele and capped by Brayden Burke on a low blocker-side wrist shot for the win.
Prosvetov’s return to the lineup showed no signs of rust and ended with a stat line of 27 stops on 28 Ontario attempts, furthering his lead among all rookie netminders in both goals against average and save percentage.
- Forward Matteo Gennaro returned to the lineup Saturday after missing the first 35 games of the season due to injury.
- First-year pro Keeghan Howdeshell made his American Hockey League debut Saturday after registering 20 points in 28 games with Rapid City thus far this season.
- During the third period of Saturday’s win, the Coyotes, who are entering their CBA-mandated “bye week” announced the loaning of Adin Hill, Kyle Capobianco and Michael Chaput back to Tucson.
- All-Star forward Lane Pederson did not play Saturday night due to a lower-body injury.
Where They Stand
Record: 27-9-1-0 (55 Points / .743 Win Percentage)
Pacific Division: First Place / First Place
Western Conference: Second Place / First Place
The Week That Was
Friday, January 17
Roadrunners (1) at Gulls (4)
Saturday, January 18
Roadrunners (2) at Reign (1)
Up & Down
Monday, January 13
- Forward Keeghan Howdeshell loaned to Rapid City (ECHL).
- Defenseman Jalen Smereck reassigned to Rapid City from Tucson by Arizona (NHL).
Wednesday, January 15
- Forward Michael Chaput recalled by Arizona (NHL) from Tucson.
Thursday, January 16
- Forward Matteo Gennaro recalled by Tucson from Rapid City (ECHL).
Friday, January 17
- Goaltender Ivan Prosvetov loaned to Tucson from Arizona (NHL).
- Goaltender Brandon Halverson released from professional tryout (PTO), returned to Norfolk (ECHL).
- Defenseman Kyle Capobianco recalled by Arizona (NHL) from Tucson.
Saturday, January 11
- Forward Keeghan Howdeshell recalled by Tucson from Rapid City (ECHL).
- Goaltender Adin Hill loaned to Tucson by Arizona (NHL).
- Defenseman Kyle Capobianco loaned to Tucson by Arizona (NHL).
- Forward Michael Chaput loaned to Tucson by Arizona (NHL).
Alumni In Action
Congratulations go out to captain Michael Chaput, who became the 31stplayer in the affiliation’s three-plus-year history to play a game for both the Roadrunners and Coyotes, as he appeared for the parent club in their contests Thursday in Vancouver and Saturday in Edmonton.
In The System
There’s been quite a bit of back-and-forth for defenseman Jalen Smereck thus far this season and it’s been a hectic four games in five days for the Rapid City Rush, however, the blueliner appears undeterred, putting together a monster three-point performance Wednesday night in the team’s 8-2 win over Wichita. The offensively gifted blueliner scored a dazzling highlight reel goal to celebrate his 23rd birthday in the affair.
Highlight Of The Week
Ivan Prosvetov was stellar from start to finish on Saturday, but an overtime winner in the building that he’ll be playing in the All-Star Classic in in just seven days earns Highlight of the Week honors for #41 Brayden Burke.
Really, the play as a whole, starting with Russo’s defense, Andy Miele’s patience and Burke’s shot, it’s all worth another look.