The Tucson Roadrunners returned to action Tuesday, defeating the visiting Colorado Eagles 2-1 in the first of two home games against their new rivals this week.
The two teams met in Loveland early last month where the Eagles bested Tucson both times in close matches. The third installation of this ultimately 12-match affair was no different.
This week’s series has been touted as a battle between two of the hottest teams in the American Hockey League. Both teams were running on a combined 11-0-2-1 record since either team lost in regulation. Tucson’s win extends their own streak to 6-0-2-0 for the eight game streak without a regulation loss.
“It feels good,” goaltender Hunter Miska said after the game. “It’s nice to be a consistent hockey team. Obviously our guys are showing up every night and playing our game.”
Both teams kept a tight game throughout the first 40 minutes. Tucson and Colorado were nearly dead-even on the shot board after two periods of play. That all changed in the third period — I feel like I’m finding a trend here in the past couple games — when Colorado had two close penalties called against them, giving the Roadrunners a prime two-man-advantage opportunity.
At 5:32 into the period, Lane Pederson would be the one to score on the 5-on-3 powerplay, breaking the scoreless tie and opening the gates for Tucson. At the time there was two seconds left on the two-man advantage, several fans were screaming for Tucson to shoot the puck. One man who was patient throughout the shift was Tucson’s head coach Jay Varady.
“To me it’s about execution and finding out a way to score a goal, and those guys will go out and do that,” Varady said after the game. “Sometimes, I think if you just wind up and shoot, there’s guys in shooting lanes.”
Less than a minute later, Jens Looke hit a rocket like shot past Pavel Francouz to give the Roadrunners a 2-0 lead.
With just under seven minutes remaining in the third, Dakota Mermis, was called for a double minor for holding and unsportsmanlike conduct, that then gave Colorado their prime opportunity. Within seconds of the puck dropping Ty Lewis scored for Colorado, cutting it back to 2-1.
Colorado’s goal also snapped a Tucson’s running shutout streak at 156:27, looking back to their shootout win over Ontario on Friday.
Despite a number of penalties called against Tucson in the final minutes of the game — including a 10-minute “abuse of the officials” penalty against Laurent Dauphin — Colorado was unable to score any more goals, giving Tucson the 2-1 victory.
They will face off against Colorado once more, tomorrow at 7 p.m., before heading on the road to play the Chicago Wolves.