Tucson Roadrunners

Tucson falls short in a defensive low-scoring matchup

Roadrunners captain Dakota Mermis handling a puck during tonight’s game.
Source: Tucson Roadrunners

Saturday night in their first game back after the gem show road trip, the Tucson Roadrunners lost to the Bakersfield Condors 2-0. With the win, the Condors extended their winning streak to an AHL-best 16 games. Over the course of their 16-game winning streak, the Condors have only trailed in a game for 49 minutes and 4 seconds.

Notably, NHL regular, Christian Dvorak, who is on a conditioning assignment from the Coyotes, made his debut at the Tucson Convention Center tonight, centering the first line.

Despite getting shutout, the Roadrunners played a solid game in front of a season best 6,375-person crowd. Bakersfield only scored one goal with Adin Hill in net as their second goal was an empty-netter. Saturday night was as close of a hockey game as they come. The only goal the Condors scored with Adin Hill in net was the result of an excellent one-timer by Bakersfield rookie, Kailer Yamamoto.

Excluding the play that led to the Yamamoto goal, the Roadrunners played well defensively; forcing the Condors to the outside, ensuring that the majority of Bakersfield’s 31 shots came from low percentage areas of the ice. In fact, if it was not for a controversial call, Tucson would have tied the game at 1-1 before the first period was over.

Late in the first, Jens Looke’s goal was disallowed after a video review of the play determined that he kicked the puck into the net. Video evidence was rather inconclusive, but given that the call on the ice was “no goal,” it was not overturned.

When asked about the call, Jens Looke said “I think it was hard to tell, everything went so fast there. I don’t feel like I was kicking it, but I think its hard for a ref to see when everything is moving so fast. It’s tough, but we still need to find other ways to score goals because we’re struggling with that right now.”

It was definitely a tough call, because in hockey players are allowed to redirect pucks into the net with their feet, but are not allowed to score goals with a distinct kicking motion. Overall, Tucson did a lot of things right tonight and played well against a very good team. Adin Hill stopped 29 of the 30 shots he faced; the Roadrunners just didn’t get the bounces or the calls to go their way.

Except for a lack of offence, Roadrunners head coach, Jay Varady liked a lot of what he saw from his team tonight. After the game, he addressed specific aspects of Tucson’s game that he would like to see improve in their next game Monday night “I just think it’s that net-front presence, [the Roadrunners need] screens, tips, rebounds, and second chances. That’s going to be important for us.”

Tucson will look to build on tonight’s performance and end Bakersfield’s winning streak on Monday night on home ice. Just like tonight’s game, the puck drops at 7:05 PM.

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