Tucson Tops Chicago, 4-3, In Preseason Opener

Milwaukee, Wisconsin – Showing resiliency and timely special teams efforts, the Roadrunners jostled by the Chicago Wolves in a 4-3 victory Friday at UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena.

The Wolves, coming off of a 4-0 loss to the home-hosting Milwaukee Admirals last night, snapped their early preseason scoreless drought just five minutes into tonight’s contest, banging home a scramble in front of goaltender Erik Kallgren’s cage.

Kallgren, who faced 17 of his eventual 33 shots against in the opening 20 minutes, was pivotal in settling the Roadrunners, a batch that tied the contest in the final three minutes of the opening frame, courtesy of Nate Schnarr. Tucson’s lone power play goal of the night was the first of several connections and an early bit of chemistry between the first-year pro and Jeremy Gregoire, whom was returning to Milwaukee after being acquired by the Roadrunners in early February.

Pushback was a requirement from Kallgren and Tucson once again in the early portions of the middle frame, as the Roadrunners took three consecutive penalties and spending the majority of the first half of the period shorthanded.

Despite successfully killing off all three, Chicago would retake the lead on a fortuitous carom off of a blast from the point, being tapped past Tucson’s netminder by a net-lurking forward.

Another late-period surge from Tucson resulted in the team’s first lead of the night, taking tallies from Gregoire and newcomer Andy Miele, a July 1 signing by the Coyotes. Gregoire’s came with help from Schnarr and defenseman Ryker Killins while Nick Merkley assisted Miele’s go-ahead-goal.

“I thought [Andy and I] had some nice chemistry out there,” said Merkley of his first experience in playing with Miele. “It’s good to get that started early.”

Tucson’s advantage expired after 9:37 of third period play when Chicago capitalized with Jon Martin in the penalty box.

Tied at 3-3, the game-winning-goal game from defenseman and third-year Roadrunner Jalen Smereck. Efficiently maneuvering his way through the attacking end, the 2019 ECHL All-Star defenseman beat Chicago’s Oscar Dansk, giving Tucson the victory. Gregoire earned his third point of the night on the goal and Brayden Burke additionally earned an assist.

“It was a nice play by [Tyler Steenbergen], lots of communication by our group,” Smereck said of his tally. “[Jeremy Gregoire] drove hard to the net, that opened up some space for me and it hit a stick, then trickled in.”

The Roadrunners now turn their attention to the Admirals, who they’ll face Saturday at 4 p.m. MST. Live coverage with the “Voice of the Roadrunners” Adrian Denny will begin at 3:45 p.m. on Fox Sports Tucson – 1450 AM.