Tuesday night, in the makeup of the game that was cancelled due to the unfortunate collapse of Craig Cunningham, the Roadrunners defeated the Manitoba Moose 5-2 off of an incredible hat trick performance from Brendan Perlini. Prior to the game, the Arizona Coyotes reassigned both left wing Perlini and defenseman Anthony DeAngelo to Tucson. In goal it was Adin Hill for the Roadrunners and long-time former NHL starting goaltender Ondrej Pavelec for the Moose.
Just based off of the opening two minutes, I don’t think anyone would have guessed that this game would have turned out the way that it did. The Moose won the opening face-off and Quentin Howden scored just 16 seconds in, before the Roadrunners could even touch the puck. Shortly after just a minute and 51 seconds in Manitoba made it 2-0, going two-for-two on their first 2 shots; their only goals of the entire game. Thankfully, Hill didn’t let Manitoba’s early success get to him, the Roadrunners tightened up their defensive play and Mark Olver was able to cut the score to 2-1 off of his third goal of the season, with less than three minutes left to play.
On the board, baby! pic.twitter.com/6X8eGVbu4w
As I’ve said before the Roadrunners are a second period team. Usually dominating their opponents in the second frame of action and depsite the shot clock giving Mabitoba a two shot advantage, Tucson was clearly the better team. They spent tons of time in Manitoba’s zone, held on to the puck and played the more physical game. Any advantage in shots was largely due to the Moose blocking shot attempts and the Roadrunners spending more time passing and setting smart plays rather than getting rid of the puck as soon as possible by shooting.
After capturing the momentum late in the first, the Roadrunners capitalized and Christian Fischer made it 2-2 on the powerplay.
After tying the game up the Roadrunners continued turning their weak start into one of their strongest games of the season. Their strong play led to Pelini sniping Pavelec right off of Mueller’s won face-off for the Roadrunners’ first lead of the night.
Off the draw, y’all pic.twitter.com/pKFDr19RHa
Tucson continued pressuring Manitoba for the rest of the night frustrating the Moose, forcing them to take three penalties in the third period alone (Tucson only had one). Two of the aforementioned penalties gave the Roadrunners a 5-on-3, which ended with Perlini’s second of the game. The setup right before the goal was beautiful, it was executed exactly how thousands of coaches around teach their players to score with a two man advantage: use quick passes to get the penalty killers out of position and strike when you see an opening (its too bad the GIF doesn’t let you see the previous 30 seconds leading up to the goal).
Waiting out back. pic.twitter.com/gjAd1XWHIA
The Roadrunners, now with the 2 goal lead previously held by Manitoba grinded out the rest of the game, with lots of checking and a conservative forecheck. Eventually, Manitoba pulled their goalie in a futile effort to tie it up, giving the 20-year-old Perlini his first career professional hat trick (the empty netter at the end).
For Three! pic.twitter.com/DiA3BWCxia
- Perlini Hat Trick. His hat trick was the first hat trick of the season and in Roadrunners team history. Fresh off of a 15 game stint with the Coyotes in the NHL which saw him score 4 goals and 1 assist, Perlini looked like he had just taken off weights that were tied to his ankles and stick for a week. He was whipping past guys and all night ripping wrist shots all night. Sadly for us, I don’t think he’ll be down here for long.
- 5-on-3. It was perfect. Like I said before it looked like a drill taken straight out of a practice.
- Hill stands tall. A lot of goalies would have a hard time bouncing back after letting in the first two shots of the game. Not Hill though, he got right back in it and made sure he wasn’t going to let his team down.
- AHL All-Star selections. For their performances here in Tucson 20-year-olds rookies Kyle Wood and Brendan Perlini have earned spots on the AHL’s All-Star roster. The game will be held on January 30th in Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania at the PPL center, home of the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers.
- None. I can’t fault the Roadrunners for anything in this game. Manitoba’s slim advantage in shots was mainly due to the Roadrunners’ playing style and Tucson didn’t give the Moose the W after going down 2-0.
Look for the Roadrunners to keep the momentum going when they take on the Texas Stars Friday and Saturday night on Wildcat weekend. For the games they will be wearing special U of A inspired jerseys.