Last night, in the first of a brief two-game home stand against the San Diego Gulls, a two goal performance from Lawson Crouse helped the Roadrunners defeat the San Diego Gulls 5-3.
In goal, Mike Van Ryn elected to start second-string goaltender, Hunter Miska, giving Tucson starter, Adin Hill time to rest for Wednesday’s game.
Monday night started out strong for the Roadrunners, in the first five minutes of the game they managed to dominate possession and were already outshooting San Diego 8-2 with almost half of the first period gone. Despite Tucson’s impressive early shot differential, San Diego managed to open the scoring about 8 minutes in on only their second shot of the game.
The Gulls would hold their 1-0 lead until all-star center, Dylan Strome would tie the game for Tucson with his 17th goal of the season. Tucson would take the lead 17 seconds after Strome’s goal with only 13 seconds remaining in the period as Mike Sislo collected Michael Bunting’s pass in the slot, scoring his 11th of the season.
Facing a 2-1 deficit and a game that was getting out of hand, San Diego forward, Deven Sideroff attempted to get something going for his team, starting and winning a fight against Tucson’s Michael Bunting. The fight would turn out to be a major turning point for the Gulls, having a far stronger showing in the second than the first, holding the Roadrunners to just four shots in the second.
Despite a solid all-around effort from San Diego, the Roadrunners capitalized on their few chances in the second period. Lawson Crouse would widen Tucson’s lead to 3-1 before the period was over, picking up Strome’s rebound and firing home his first of the game and fourth goal of the season.
Tucson in all honesty was lucky to escape with their two goal lead after their weak performance in the second. But what happened in the third period truly showed what a strange game hockey can be. In the second period Tucson didn’t look very good, they were held to just four shots and allowed San Diego to put 12 on Miska the other way.
In the second, Miska managed to answer everything the Gulls threw at him, having zero goals against. But in the third which was a far better period for Tucson in nearly every respect, especially in terms puck possession and shots, the Gulls managed to cut the Roadrunners’ lead to 4-3 after Crouse had made it 4-1 with his second of the game early in the period.
Down 4-3 San Diego would eventually pull the goalie, in a last-ditch attempt to send the game to overtime, giving Andrew Campbell the opportunity to score an empty net goal, leaving the final score at 5-3 Tucson.
Monday was one of the few games Tucson has had to play without recently selected all-star right wing, Nick Merkley as he is out with undisclosed upper body injury. Monday was also Lawson Crouse’s first two goal game of the season, and with one goal and one assist it was yet another in a long line of multi point performances for Dylan Strome.