In a defensive, hard-fought two-game home series against the San Antonio Rampage, the Tucson Roadrunners earned three of a possible four points on the weekend, winning 2-1 in overtime Friday and losing 1-0 in overtime Saturday night.
The Roadrunners played great hockey this weekend after a poor showing against Bakersfield Monday night. Tucson managed to play well despite mostly having to rely on depth players as four of Tucson’s best players, Nick Merkley, Kyle Capobianco, Conor Garland and Laurent Dauphin were missing in one or both of the games this weekend.
Here are the three big takeaways from both games.
Tucson deserved the win on Saturday night
On Saturday night, the Roadrunners managed to register 44 shots on goal while only surrendering 11 the other way. The Roadrunners were lights-out defensively on Saturday as the 11 shots on goal that San Antonio had on Saturday night was a season-low for all AHL teams this season.
Offensively, they were excellent, putting 44 shots on San Antonio goaltender, Ville Husso. Admittedly, a great deal of these shots were perimeter shots from low-percentage areas of the ice, but 44 is still an incredible single-game tally for Tucson. The Roadrunners just ran into a hot goaltender, and there wasn’t much more they could do about it.
Despite the loss, there was little to not like about how Tucson played Saturday, and if they continue playing the same type of game, Tucson will keep racking up the wins this season.
Adin Hill continues to elevate his game
Tucson goaltender, Adin Hill didn’t see much action on Saturday, only facing 11 shots in over 60 minutes of play, but played one of his best games of the season on Friday night. Facing 32 shots on Friday, Hill was the night’s first star of the game, having only one goal against and earning a 0.969 save percentage in the process.
He helped his team out defensively all weekend with excellent rebound control; never coughing the puck up into dangerous areas of the ice, and played a very smart, composed game. Goaltending was the difference-maker in both games as Ville Husso was excellent on the other end all weekend. Considering how little offensive support Hill had in both games, San Antonio easily could have left Tucson with a pair of wins had he not been at the top of his game.
Tucson needs to work on the power play
The only major weak point for Tucson this weekend was their inability to score with the man advantage, going 0-for-14 on the power play (0-for-7 in each game). When you’re playing in a tight, defensive game against a defensively minded team, you need to utilize the extra time and space on the power play if you want to win.
Tucson needed the power play to produce this weekend, especially on Saturday. Part of this was the result of Husso’s outstanding play but some blame should be put on the Roadrunners. All weekend, including when they were on the power play, Tucson’s passes weren’t very accurate and they were doing strange things like playing dump-and-chase hockey when they had the man advantage.
Dump-and-chase is a strategy teams use to break into the offensive zone where they shoot the puck into the zone, go in hard on the forecheck, and hope to recover it. Usually, this is a strategy teams only use when playing shorthanded or at even strength, not on the power play and it was especially strange considering the amount of skill on Tucson’s roster.