Game #67: Tucson Roadrunners (3) vs San Diego Gulls (2)

Roadrunners Recap: 4/7/2024

Game #67: Tucson Roadrunners vs San Diego Gulls

SOG: TUC (37) – SD (27)

PP: TUC (0/2) – SD (0/5)

SAN DIEGO SCORING: Josh Lopina (13), Andrew Agozzino (20)

TUCSON SCORING: Hunter Drew (8), Austin Poganski (14)


SAN DIEGO, CA – The San Diego goalie is still putting his clothes back on after John Leonard’s shootout goal as the Roadrunners defeated the Gulls 3-2 in a shootout to improve to 39-23-3-2 on the year from the Pechanga Arena Sunday evening.

UNDRESSED. Okay, that was a little bit of a stretch, but not as big of a stretch as the San Diego Gulls netminder, attempting to stop John Leonard, from scoring on the shootout. John Leonard, Tucson’s first skater in the shootout, is now three-for-four on the season in shootout attempts. Leonard’s goal, plus one from Aku Raty, and two saves from goalie Matthew Villalta would be enough to give Tucson the 3-2 shootout victory.


THE MATTHEW VILLALTA OWNERSHIP GROUP – Little did you all know that as a side hustle from being the Tucson Roadrunners goalie, Matthew Villalta collects some passive income in being the San Diego Gulls owner. Villalta was 4-1 this season against San Diego, and is now 17-6 in his career against the Gulls. Not only is Villalta a business man and entrepreneur, he is an outstanding goalie. He currently leads the AHL in saves (1,238) and minutes played (2909:02) as well as wins (28). Sunday marked the 26th time in 46 starts that Villalta has allowed two goals or less.


(Photo Credits: San Diego Gulls)

Tucson Goalie Matthew Villalta makes a save in the shootout of Sunday night’s game against San Diego to secure the 3-2 victory for the Roadrunners. Matthew Villalta leads the AHL in both wins (28) and saves (1,238) and improved to 2-0 in shootouts this season.     


“It’s tough to beat anyone two nights in a row. We didn’t have our best stuff in the first period, but we found a way to win and that’s what is going to matter in the rest of the regular season and into the playoffs. Having a guy like that (Matthew Villalta) in the pipes is a great feeling because you know you have a chance in every game,”

Forward Austin Poganski following Tucson’s 3-2 shootout victory over San Diego on Sunday night.


It was a slow start to the contest for the Roadrunners who committed three minor penalties in the first period and were outshot 11-10 in the frame. San Diego would find the back of the net at the 7:42 mark of the frame and take a 1-0 lead.

The second period, however, was dominated by the Roadrunners; evening the score 1-1 and outshooting the Gulls 13-7. Matthew Villalta was perfect in the frame, including a diving save that was SportsCenter Top-10 worthy. The Roadrunners first goal, similarly to Saturday night, came off of the stick of Hunter Drew. Drew, who was assisted by Travis Barron on the play, weaved his way through traffic and buried a bar-down backhanded goal to knot things up around the halfway point.

San Diego would retake the lead in the third period and hold onto the 2-1 lead for just under 10 minutes of play. Austin Poganski would then take a draw in Tucson’s offensive zone, win it, shoot, and bury the puck tying things back up. Cam Hebig got his stick on the puck amidst Poganski making magic and is awarded an assist on the play. Poganski scored his 14th goal of the year and Hebig recorded his 15th assist.

Tucson would draw a tripping minor on San Diego late in the third, at 18:17. The Roadrunners would be unsuccessful in the final 1:43 of regulation on the power-play but would get a chance to start the 3-on-3 overtime frame with a man advantage.

San Diego’s goalie would make some fantastic saves in the overtime period, matched, if not outdone by Tucson’s netminder Matthew Villalta, and the two sides would head to a shootout.

In the shootout, it would be John Leonard undressing the San Diego goalie to kick things off. Followed by a Villalta save, a Raty goal (Gulls goalie’s clothes were still not on), and another Villalta save and the shootout was over. Tucson would collect the two-points and look ahead to the Colorado Eagles coming to the Tucson Arena on Friday and Saturday April 12th-13th.