Tonight in the first of 12 matchups between these two squads, the Tucson Roadrunners fell short to the San Diego Gulls in an extremely entertaining 13 goal game. It was an incredible night for Tucson’s offensive players as they managed to put up 6 goals against one of the toughest, deepest teams in the American Hockey League.
The Roadrunners struck first as Emerson Etem’s shot squeaked past Gulls’ goaltender Kevin Boyle. Conor Garland and Scottsdale-native, Zac Larraza would also score a pair of goals, putting the Roadrunners up 3-0 less than ten minutes into the game. The Gulls responded strongly, as Andy Welinski, Kevin Roy, and Steve Olesky scored three unanswered goals, tying the game before the period was over.
With a man advantage heading into the second, the Gulls took the lead with a powerplay goal just 36 seconds into the period. Nick Kerdelis and Kevin Roy would follow, widening San Diego’s lead to 6-3. Later in the second, Tucson’s Scott Allen would cut the lead to 6-4, only for the Gulls’ Mitch Hults to restore San Diego’s 3 goal lead just 23 seconds later.
With Mario Kempe’s beautiful snipe from the high slot late in the second, the score of a wild game stood at 7-5 at the start of the third period. The third period saw near-constant penalties, as Tucson had three and San Diego drew an astonishingly high six penalties in the final 20 minutes alone. All this time with the man advantage would allow the Roadrunners’ Jens Looke to cut San Diego’s lead to one.
After clawing their way back into a game that at certain points appeared to be a lost cause, the Roadrunners would spend six straight minutes on the powerplay. This would give them a multitude of great chances that would have allowed Tucson to send the game to overtime, but the Gulls hung on, leaving the final score at 7, San Diego and 6, Tucson.
- A forward’s dream. Tonight was the type of game that every offensive player dreams of. Eleven and eight players on the Gulls and Roadrunners rosters respectively found their way onto Saturday night’s scoresheet. Also, four players on each roster had multi-point nights.
- A goalie’s nightmare. This point and the previous point go hand in hand, as both teams’ starters would like to forget what happened tonight. San Diego’s Kevin Boyle had only 30 saves on 36 shots, giving him 6 goals against a save percentage of 0.833 on the night. Roadrunners’ starting goaltender Hunter Miska fared even worse, being pulled in favor of Adin Hill after letting in six having a save percentage of only 0.667.
- An extreme amount of penalties. Both clubs respective special teams units got plenty of practice Saturday as a mind-blowing total of 19 penalties were drawn in the game, creating 15 total powerplays. Only about half of the game was played 5-on-5, a rare occurrence in North America’s second-best hockey league.
Overall, despite the loss, Saturday night’s game was as entertaining as hockey gets. There was never a dull moment, and the Roadrunners played very competitive hockey; with a few different bounces, Tucson could have easily won that game.
Look for Tucson to fight for their first win of the 2017-18 season as the Roadrunners travel to California to take on the Bakersfield Condors this Saturday, October 14th.