Wrapping up their longest home stand of the season, the Roadrunners put a cap on their seven-game stint at Tucson Arena with five out of six possible points earned this week.
While game action was once again a success, so much so the team reclaimed the top spot among all 31 American Hockey League teams with their .773 winning percentage and a 25-7-1 record, more good news came on the front of the 2020 AHL All-Star Classic with forward Lane Pederson and defenseman Kyle Capobianco being named to the playing roster on Friday.
Tuesday vs. San Diego (7-4 Win)
Despite a rocky start, three goals in each the second and third period proved critical in the team’s win in their first meeting against San Diego on home ice this season.
Keeping in mind that the I-8 Border Rival had their way with Tucson back on November 30 in their only prior meeting in a 6-2 score, the “push back”, as Jay Varady has coined it, was there and the game wound up being a “breakout game” if you will for Blake Speers. Scoring his first goal and displaying his exceptional skill on the penalty kill, #10 seemed to be everywhere for the Roadrunners as the game went on.
Kelly Klima found his way to the goal scoring category once again and by the time the game had concluded, five members of the home club had multiple points, including three each from Michael Bunting, Kyle Capobianco and Lane Pederson.
In his fifth straight start, Ivan Prosvetov picked up his 10th win in 13 games, going 30/34.
Friday vs. San Jose (5-1 Win)
Another bumpy start, another comeback win.
Ivan Prosvetov was crucial once again, seeing 25 shots in the first 27 minutes, keeping his team in it when they admittedly were being “outplayed and outskated” as Dysin Mayo remarked.
However, a switch flipped roughly halfway through the contest and it allowed the Roadrunners to ring off five straight goals on their way to victory. One of them came from defenseman Aaron Ness, who made his return to the Tucson lineup for the first time since October 18, following 18 games with the Coyotes.
At the end of 60, Prosvetov finished with 38 saves as he only furthered his standing as the leader among all AHL first-year goaltenders in both goals against average and save percentage during his last full game of the week.
Saturday vs. San Jose (5-4 Overtime Loss)
As stated above, the start was an issue on Tuesday and Friday, but certainly not Saturday.
Hudson Fasching and Jordan Gross brought Tucson out of the gate with goals in the first 11 minutes, but it still wasn’t enough for a first period lead. San Jose’s “push back” was even stronger and they tallied three goals in the final nine minutes of the frame to set Tucson from behind.
The night got wacky when toward the later part of the first when news came out of Glendale that Antti Raanta had removed himself from the Coyotes game. While Ivan Prosvetov came back out for the second to turn away five more shots from San Jose, he did not come back out for the third for precautionary reasons and thus forced Brandon Halverson into the game.
Jordan Gross, who has been outstanding since returning to Tucson post-NHL debut on December 22, got his third goal in two games to force a tie early in the third for the newly-entered netminder. Seeing ten shots after coming in cold, Halverson kept his team in it until San Jose took a late lead with 105 seconds to go. Just when it looked like it was over in regulation though, Beau Bennett pulled a rabbit out of his hat with 14.5 seconds to go to get Tucson at least one point.
San Jose would get the extra one in overtime, however, with nine of a possible 14 points earned during the home stand, Head Coach Jay Varady was pleased post-game with his team’s ability to battle through adversity to get the ont point.
Where They Stand
Record: 25-7-1-0 (51 Points / .773 Win Percentage)
Pacific Division: First Place / First Place
Western Conference: Second Place / First Place
The Week That Was
Tuesday, December 31
Gulls (4) at Roadrunners (7)
Friday, January 3
Barracuda (1) at Roadrunners (5)
Saturday, January 4
Barracuda (5) at Roadrunners (4) – OT
Up & Down
Monday, December 30
- Forward Michael Chaput recalled to Arizona (NHL) from Tucson.
Tuesday, December 31
- Forward Keeghan Howdeshell and defenseman Dane Birks recalled to Tucson from Rapid City (ECHL).
Wednesday, January 1
- Defenseman Aaron Ness loaned to Tucson from Arizona (NHL).
- Defenseman Kyle Capobianco recalled to Arizona (NHL) from Tucson.
Thursday, January 2
- Forward Michael Chaput loaned to Tucson from Arizona (NHL).
- Defenseman Dane Birks reassigned to Rapid City (ECHL) from Tucson by Arizona (NHL).
Sunday, January 5
- Goaltender Ivan Prosvetov recalled to Arizona (NHL) from Tucson.
Alumni In Action
For the second straight Saturday Adin Hill entered a Coyotes contest in relief.
The four-year Roadrunners made ten stops in the third period to secure a win for the parent club over the Philadelphia Flyers, remaining perfect in 2020.
In The System
More positive news coming for forward Matteo Gennaro, who added another string of points for the team’s ECHL affiliate in Rapid City this past week.
Now with five games under his belt this season, the 22-year-old has one goal and four assists for five points as a part of the 19-12-3 South Dakota-based team.
Highlight Of The Week
Down 4-3 with 22 seconds to go in Saturday’s third period, Beau Bennett went right to the net following a Lane Pederson faceoff win. While Pederson’s season has been well documented and there’s been no shortage of points for the third-year skater, it’s plays such as this that statistic-wise, won’t show up, but are every bit of important.
If he loses that faceoff, San Jose likely fires it down the ice and burns another ten seconds or so off the clock, making this goal even less likely. However, Pederson wins it and after Jordan Gross, Michael Bunting and Andy Miele all touch the puck, Bennett puts home a third effort in front to get Tucson a point.