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Colorado Eagles spoil Nick Merkley’s return, Roadrunners fall 2-0

Penalties plagued Tucson as they drop their first game in regulation in over eight games.

Photo courtesy of Tucson Roadrunners

It’s been a wild week for the Tucson Roadrunners who capped off their four-game home stand with a 2-0 loss to the Colorado Eagles. The loss ends Tucson’s point streak at eight games.

“I didn’t really like how we played,” Roadrunners coach Jay Varady said after the game. “I thought we were undisciplined, we were in the box too much and then chasing the game.”

Despite the loss, however, the Roadrunners were happy to receive a key player back in Wednesday’s match. Just hours before the game, the Roadrunners confirmed fan-favorite forward, Nick Merkley was cleared to play in game. Merkley started in Wednesday night’s affair with the Eagles, marking his first game back since leaving with an injury on March 20 earlier this year.

“It’s nice to be in a competitive environment again,” Merkley said after the game. “But, obviously we want to win. I though we had a chance tonight, we just couldn’t bury.”

Varady said he thought he liked Merkley’s performance on Wednesday.

“I thought he was good,” He said. “He was right in the swing of things. I didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary with him. I thought he was really good.

“He’s another weapon (for Tucson). He’s a talented player, and made some plays tonight. I think as he continues to get in the rhythm of the game, he’ll be making more plays.”

Much to the liking of all the previous times Tucson an Colorado did battle, this game was another closely contested match. A low shot count affair, both teams accounted for less than 10 shots by the end of the first 20 minutes.

Both teams continued to keep an even game throughout the first half of the game, until about 12:01 into the second period, when Logan O’Connor deflected a shot past Merrick Madsen, while shorthanded to give Colorado the 1-0 lead.

Special teams plagued Tucson in the second period, starting in the second half of the second period, the Roadrunners were called for minor penalties on three occasions. They also had a single double minor power play opportunity that was wiped when Merkley was caught high sticking later in the period.

The third period was much of the same in this game. Tucson was granted with a number of opportunities that could have easily swung the momentum of the game. Unfortunately, for the Roadrunners, however, Eagles goaltender Spencer Martin stopped everything coming his way.

With about 2:20 remaining in the game, Colorado’s Scott Kosmachuck slipped another one past Madsen to make it 2-0. The Roadrunners would pull Madsen with two minutes left and while on the Power play to try to score something, but they just couldn’t get past Martin.

Tucson finished their home-stand winning three-of-four. They will go on the road to play the Chicago Wolves this weekend, followed by a couple games in San Jose against the Barracuda before returning home after Christmas to host the Stockton Heat.