The Tucson Roadrunners were quite disappointed with their overtime loss Friday night, despite capturing one point. Saturday night, they decided one point was not enough, and left the SAP Center with an extra two points, defeating the San Jose Barracuda 4-3 just as they head into the holiday break.
“We just wanted to come in with this last game here and make a statement,” goaltender Merrick Madsen said after the game. “We kind of traded chances with them early there, but I think we settled in pretty well and we got just what we wanted.”
It was another back-and-forth battle between the top two teams in the AHL’s Pacific Division. For each goal one team had, the other had an answer.
The scoring bout began just 2:48 into the first period when Barracuda forward, Evan Weinger took the first chance at Roadrunners goaltender Merrick Madsen. It didn’t take too long for Tucson to answer, however. Just under two minutes after Weinger’s goal, Jordan Gross had an answer off a “faceoff-dish” one-timer from Lane Pederson and Brayden Burke.
The story of back and fourth answers would continue much later in the first period, when Dylan Gambrell (San Jose) and Kyle Capobianco traded goals at 10:37 and 12:38 respectively to keep the game knotted through the period.
The second period was much more spread out, but continued to tell the same story: lack of needed pressure and back-and-forth scoring. This period, it was Trevor Cheek who lead off the period scoring just 3:20 into the period, while Jeffrey Viel (San Jose) didn’t respond for the Barracuda until 11:23 in the period.
Ultimately, it was Jordan Gross who saved the Roadrunners with a rocket shot in the waning minutes of the third period, giving Tucson the 4-3 victory.
“It was a good sign for the team (holding San Jose in the final minutes),” Gross said after the game. “It was showing that we can shut it down with a a lead at the end of the game.”
The Roadrunners now head home for the holidays before returning to action on December 28, when they play host to the Stockton Heat.
“It will be good for everyone getting home and see family (for the holidays),” Madsen said. “Sometimes it’s nice to rest the mind a little bit and we’ll come back at it strong.”