In the first game of Wildcats Weekend, the Tucson Roadrunners defeated the Texas Stars 5-3 wearing special U of A inspired jerseys. Before the game, Brendan Perlini, fresh off of his hat trick against Manitoba and Laurent Dauphin were recalled by the Coyotes. In goal, it was once again Adin Hill for the Roadrunners and Maxime Lagace for the Stars. Texas is the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Dallas Stars and the first, and the only previous meeting between these two teams was a 5-4 overtime loss here in Tucson.
The Roadrunners came out to a fast start in the first period registering 4 shots on goal before Texas could even manage one. Things evened out in terms of shots and puck possession for a bit and then around the halfway point of the period Texas seemed to be carrying the play.
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Luckily for the Roadrunners, they got the break they needed when Stars’ defenseman Julius Honka tried to attempted to shoot from the blue line, and it hit Jamie McBain in the legs. After the puck had hit McBain, he caught the smooth-skating Honka flatfooted, skated down the ice and scored on his breakaway saw eight penalties from and an officiating crew that wouldn’t let anything go. McBain opened up the scoring in the period with his second of the game on the power play, going bar-down on Lagace off a nice wrist shot from the point.
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Shortly after, the Roadrunners drew the worst and most preventable penalty in hockey: too many men on the ice. It was off of this power play that the Stars were able to get on the board off of was initially a 3-on-2 odd-man rush. As they were skating down the ice, the Stars split the D, turning it into a 3-on-1 setting up Brandon DeFazio for an easy one-timer. Hill didn’t even have a chance.
In the many penalties of this game and period, the Stars’ aggressive playing style became apparent. Much like their NHL counterparts up in Dallas, Texas is a team that relies on their offense to win their games for them. They never stop forechecking, even on the penalty kill. Fortunately for the Roadrunners, the Stars’ aggressiveness on the PK created a lot of space on the ice for Tucson, allowing the time and space Anthony DeAngelo to snipe Lagace from the blue line.
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After that, the officials continued the parade to the penalty box, leading to the Stars’ DeFazio deflecting Honka’s shot on the power play for his second of the game. To wrap up the period’s scoring, Christian Fischer stripped the Stars’ goaltender Lagace of the puck behind the net, giving Michael Bunting an empty net for an easy goal.
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Leading 4-2 heading into the third, the referees continued terrorizing the Roadrunners with penalties. One of which was a particularly weak call goalie interference call on Mark Olver, which he received after being pushed into the net by one of the Stars’ players. This call gave the Stars a 5-on-3 power play, giving DeFazio the hat trick on a goal that 100 percent should have been called back for goalie interference.
With the score now 4-3 the Stars continued peppering Hill with shots for the rest of the game until Christian Fischer was able to seal the deal with empty netter.
- Adin Hill continues to shine. Hill was an All-Star again tonight, even the best goalies in the world would have let the three that he did in. The first was a one-timer, no one could have moved over fast enough to stop it, the second was a deflection, again there was little he could do, and the last one shouldn’t have even counted.
- Offense from the back end. Scoring from the Roadrunners’ defensemen was a difference-maker tonight. Without McBain’s two goals and DeAngelo’s one, Tucson wouldn’t have won this one. Its always great to see scoring depth, so that was anther plus too.
- The refs were a joke. I played my youth hockey up in Phoenix, so I’ve seen some awful officiating in my day. But the referees and linesmen seen in today’s game were by far the worst. They looked like they got their certifications a week ago and just got done officiating their first beer league game. The wouldn’t let anything go for the first 50 minutes of the game. Breathe on the Goalie? Goalie interference. Your stick bumps another player’s leg? Slashing. And then in the last 10 minutes, you could practically get away with murder. Also, all three of Texas’ goals were scored with a man advantage, so there’s that.
- Passing. The Roadrunners kept passing at each other’s feet, if they had got it on the tape a little better, they would have thoroughly dominated the Stars from the beginning.
Look for the Roadrunners to close out Wildcats weekend tomorrow with another win tomorrow against Texas.