Game #56: Tucson (3) at Chicago (2) – SO
SOG: TUC (32) – CHI (15)
PP: TUC (1/5) – CHI (0/1)
TUC SCORING: Hannikainen (10), Bunting (12pp), Hannikainen (SOGWG)
CHI SCORING: Quinney (17), McKenzie (15)
TUCSON WINS THIRD IN A ROW WITH VALIENT COME-FROM-BEHIND EFFORT AGAINST CHICAGO
Despite trailing for the majority of the evening, a two-goal third period sparked a comeback victory Saturday night in Chicago, with Tucson prevailing 3-2 in the shootout.
For the first time in seven games it was the Roadrunners allowing the first goal, as Chicago struck not once, but twice less than two minutes apart to give the home side an early 2-0 advantage.
The Wolves would then carry that lead all the way into the third period, maintaining a controlling, defense-oriented game through the remainder of the opening frame and throughout the middle 20 minutes.
It wasn’t until 1:36 into the third period when that 2-0 score changed, as newcomer Markus Hannikainen recorded his third goal in four games, bringing the Roadrunners back within one. Kyle Capobianco’s wrist shot from the point left a rebound for Beau Bennett, who was robbed on the initial put back, however, Hannikainen cleaned up the scraps for his fourth point in five games with the team.
Then, seven minutes later on a power play, Michael Bunting evened the contest at 2-2. Captain Michael Chaput displayed patience along the goal line before sending a puck through the slot to Bunting, who placed a shot across the body of Oscar Dansk to beat him on the blocker-side.
Bunting’s 12th of the year was good enough to force overtime and despite a franchise record six shots on goal during the five-minute fourth period, a shootout became necessary when no goal prevailed.
In the skills competition the Roadrunners came from behind once again, as a round one goal for the Wolves then necessitated an answer from Jordan Gross to keep the three-round shootout knotted. Then, after a key stop from Adin Hill, Hannikainen executed a jaw-dropping move to his backhand for the eventual game-winner. One final stop from Hill sprung Tucson from their bench to celebrate a third straight victory.
Hill’s fourth win in four games since coming back from the NHL came with just 13 stops during 65 minutes of play in addition to his two during the breakaways.
Tucson will now travel home to begin a stretch of four games in six days at Tucson Arena, starting Tuesday against San Diego.
THEY SAID IT
“They’ve both been great. Hannikainen’s been a great add for us, a great guy in our locker room and great on the ice. Hill’s playing great, too, he’s playing strong. This is the most confident I’ve seen him in a long time. It’s great, we have a great group and there was never a doubt after that first period. We stuck together, talked it out and we came out of this strong.”Roadrunners forward Michael Bunting on the play of both Markus Hannikainen and Adin Hill, along with the team’s mindset despite the early deficit.
DON’T OVERLOOK IT
With the roller coaster-like peaks and valleys this team has endured really over the last two months, this was a large victory to obtain. Chicago dictated the majority of the evening’s style of play, locking down and limiting the amount of legitimate chances the Roadrunners were able to get.
As much as “playing our game” is preached by the players and coaching staff, adjustments were made for tonight’s third period and it paid off. Kudos to the coaching staff for doing so and kudos to the players for executing.
GOTTA SEE IT
Down one early in the shootout, Jordan Gross once again dazzles as he scores for the third time in five shootout chances this season.
PHOTO OF THE GAME
Not only is Markus Hannikainen contributing over the course of 60 minutes each night, he’s also now proven why he’s historically successful during the shootout in his first chance with Tucson for a reason.
A beautiful backhand finish was the final goal in a win that can’t be overstated enough.