Last night in their first home opener in franchise history, the Roadrunners treated fans with a thrilling 6-5 victory over the Stockton Heat. Starting in goal for Tucson was Adin Hill and for the Heat was Jon Gilles.
It was all Stockton in the opening phases of the first period; they were out-shooting, out-possessing and the Roadrunners just couldn’t seem to get it out of their zone. This combined with a few bad rebounds given up by Adin Hill, led Stockton to quickly jump out to a 3-0 lead. The goals for Stockton were scored by Mike Angelidis 2:18 into the period (assists: Brandon Bolig, Rasmus Andersson), at 3:35 Linden Vey (assists: Morgan Klimchuck, Rasmus Andersson) and at 5:11 Mark Jankowski (assists: Tyler Gaudet, Anthony DeAngelo).
After Stockton, score the three early goals, the Roadrunners respond with a strong forecheck, which led to Jarred Tinordi opening the scoring for Tuscon 8:37 into the game (assisted by Tyler Gaudet and Anthony DeAngelo). The Roadrunners were great at the end of the first and for the rest of the game at breaking out of their zone, and creating strong rushes into Stockton’s zone. Mark Olver (unassisted) sniped Jon Gilles 11:02 into the period, to cut Stockton’s lead to just 3-2 heading into the second.
After Olver’s goal, the Roadrunners had the momentum for the rest of the period. Shots at the end of the first were 17-11.
The first notable event to occur in the second period was a fight which saw Tucson’s Garrett Ross beat Stockton’s Ryan Lomberg. After gaining some momentum temporarily due to the won fight; the Roadrunners quickly lost all of it after taking an unnecessary penalty. After an active, scoreless power play, Stockton was playing the stronger game; this led to Morgan Klimchuck (Assist: Mike Angelidis at 6:02) to widen Stockton’s lead to 4-2.
After going down 4-2, the Roadrunners responded with strong play and ended up outshooting 14-8 in that period. This allowed Ryan MacInnis (assist: Conor Garland, Kyle Wood at 13:28) to score a power play goal and close the gap to just 4-3 Stockon. Just a minute and two seconds later Tyler Gaudet (assist: Christian Fisher) scored a shorthanded goal, tying the game.
The Roadrunners continued to dominate Stockton for the rest of the period.
The Roadrunners kept their momentum from a strong third period and were able to score the go-ahead goal 3:35 into the period on the power play (scored by Chris Mueller; assists: Anthony DeAngelo, Jamie McBain). Stockton tied the game on a goal by Ryan MacInnis 10:03 in the period and was assisted by Linden Vey and Rasmus Andersson. Coming out straight out of the box after drawing a penalty, Eric Selleck scored the game-winner for Tucson (at 16:50; assists: Tyler Gaudet and Anthony DeAngelo). The third was Adin Hill’s best period as he only let in one of Stockton’s 16 shots in the period. The final score of the game was 6-5 Roadrunners.
Shots for the third period were 16-8 Heat and shots in the game were 41-33.
- Specials teams were excellent last night. The penalty kill made the Heat go 0 for 7 on the power play, and the power play was able to go 2 for 8. The Roadrunners certainly would not have won this game if they weren’t so good. The PK was even able to score a short-handed goal.
- Excellent transition play. Throughout the night that Roadrunners had a great breakout; whenever they were able to retrieve the puck in the defensive zone they quickly and efficiently rushed up the ice. They also did a great job clogging up the neutral zone and not allowing the Heat to enter our zone.
- Resilience. You have to admire the Roadrunners for being able to fight their way back into the game after being down 3-0 and 4-2 at different points in the game. It’s very easy for teams to give up and let it be a blow-out after being down 3-0 early in a game. Tucson didn’t let it get to them and kept working hard for a win.
- Outstanding second period. The Roadrunners played what was probably their best 20 minutes of the whole season in the second period of last night’s game. They were physical, they stood up for themselves, had a great forecheck, dominated possession and were able to outscore and outshoot Stockton 2-1 and 14-8. If they play the way they did in the second period for the rest of the season, they are going to win a lot of games.
- Roadrunners still allowing too many shots. The Roadrunners have now played the weaker possession game (see my article on puck possession) in every single game this season (if it weren’t for their play in the second, the shot differential would have been much worse). The Roadrunners allowing 41 shots means that this is now the third out of four games this season where they have allowed more than 40 shots on goal, which is like I’ve said before is not a recipe for success. Allowing 41 shots is what led to 5 goals against, and if you let your opponent score five times, you are going to lose 99.9% of the time. If Stockton Goaltender, Jon Gillies didn’t play such a sloppy game, this one would have been a loss.
- Too many penalties. I liked the fight; hockey is a self-policing sport, and there are times you need to stick up for yourself and your teammates. However, the Roadrunners did not play a disciplined game, drawing seven unnecessary, avoidable penalties. Seven is a lot, and you can’t expect the PK to be as good every game as it was last night, just look at what happened in the season opener in San Diego. So an adjustment is certainly needed.
- Rasmus Andersson. Defenseman Rasmus Andersson was Stockton’s best player. The 20-year-old Swede had two assists an is an extremely smart, 2-way player. He was great at getting the puck away from the Roadrunners in our offensive zone and consistently made smart plays from the blue line in our defensive zone. Andersson has a bright future in the Flames’ organization and is a player the Roadrunners will need to watch out for.
The Roadrunners will play the Heat again,tomorrow, Sunday October 30th at 4:05 PM.
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