Saturday night, coming off of a 6-3 loss to Chicago Friday night, the Tucson Roadrunners defeated the Chicago Wolves 3-2. Calvin Pickard, who is on a conditioning assignment from the Coyotes, received the start for a second straight night after being pulled the previous night.
The game started out slow offensively as shots were only 1-0 Chicago 5 minutes into the first. It took the Roadrunners 7 minutes and 38 seconds to register their first shot on goal, at which point shots on goal were still tied 1-1. The game did not pick up offensively until the Roadrunners drew the first penalty of the night when the Wolves took an early 1-0 lead with a power play goal.
After Chicago’s goal, the Roadrunners pace of play picked up significantly. Domenic Alberga would eventually tie the game with his first career AHL goal, firing a one-timer home off of Giovanni Fiorre’s pass.
The 1-1 tie would hold until just past the halfway point of the second period when Chicago’s Brooks Macek gave his team the go-ahead goal. Down 2-1 heading into the third period, the Roadrunners played a much better all-around game in the third than they did in the first 40 minutes. The Roadrunners played a much more disciplined game, giving Chicago only one chance on the power play in the third period compared to four in the previous two periods.
Conversely, Chicago played an extremely undisciplined third period, giving the Roadrunners three power plays. One of these power plays eventually allowed Adam Helewka to score the game-tying goal. Later in the period Helewka would again get in behind the defense, beat Chicago’s Zachary Fuchale with a five-hole shot, scoring his second game-winning goal of the year. The 3-2 score would hold for the remainder of the game, giving Tucson their first win of the season against Chicago.
Helewka, the first star of the night, when asked about his two-goal performance remarked “I’m feeling great; obviously I was able to get two goals, but it was a full team effort, I didn’t do it by myself, and it showed a lot of character for us to come back in the third like that.”
The win against Chicago is especially impressive considering that Adin Hill, Conor Garland, and Mario Kempe, three of Tucson’s best players have all been called up to the NHL. When asked how winning tonight’s game, despite the absence of some important players, reflected his team’s ability to adjust and win games, Tucson Head Coach Jay Varady said “I just think we go about our business the same way regardless of what’s happening…our mindset and approach is going to be the same regardless of what the lineup looks like.”
Up next is a pair of road games against the Colorado Eagles next Friday and Saturday, followed by two home games against the Texas Stars on January 21st and 23rd.