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Tucson shines in shootout thriller over Ontario

Roadrunners climb back from an early 3-0 deficit to take the shootout win.

Photo courtesy of Tucson Roadrunners

The Tucson Roadrunners returned home, beginning a four-game home stand, on Friday, playing host to the Ontario Reign, defeating them 4-3 in thrilling comeback to the shootout.

With several Roadrunners players called up the Arizona Coyotes, Tucson had depleted personnel for forwards, forcing a few defensemen to move up the wing.

“It’s kind of funny (to see defensemen play forward),” Tucson defenseman, Kyle Capobianco said after the game. “It looks a little weird out there thinking you have three defensemen out there, but I think they handled it great.”

Tucson began quite slow to start the first period, failing to record a shot until shortly after the 5:00 mark. The Roadrunners finished the period with only 7 shots on goal. Meanwhile, Ontario battered goaltender Hunter Miska with 19 shots in the period. Two of those shots found the back of the net.

“We gotta be better,” Roadrunners coach Jay Varady said after the game, answering a question about the first period performance. “It’s pretty simple, we weren’t good enough. There’s no secret to that, but I thought the guys did a good job turning it around tonight.”

The second period — which was delayed for a short few minutes for a plexiglass segment replacement — was a completely different story. Ontario kept their pace to start the period with another early goal at 1:49 into the period. Tucson finally began to establish a strong forecheck shortly after, however. At 6:25 into the period, Lane Pederson finally got a shot past Peter Budaj to start the Roadrunners scoring run.

Just four minutes later, Laurent Dauphin scored another goal for Tucson to make it 3-2. With his goal, Dauphin extended a standing point streak to six games, dating back to the Roadrunners 3-2 win over the Stockton Heat on November 21. In that time span, he scored three goals, and registered four assists.

Adam Helewka and Kyle Capobianco also made some key contributions to Tucson’s second period effort registering the assists in both Pederson and Dauphin’s goals.

“I can’t score every night,” Adam Helewka said when talking about his assists. “Some nights we gotta make the passes, we got a couple lucky bounces. It was a great team effort.”

Tucson also completely changed their game with the pressure in the second period, battering Budaj with 11 shots in the period, compared to Ontario’s eight.

Tucson continued their comeback attempt in the third period with another strong performance. At the 8:19 mark, Capobianco slot a goal past Budaj to knot the game at 3 goals apiece. Adam Helewka was once again credited with the assist keeping his point numbers up alongside Capobianco at 3 points each.

With the game knotted at 3 after 3 periods. The fans at the Tucson Convention Center were treated to some bonus hockey as they went into overtime. Neither team scored in the overtime period forcing the eventual shootout.

Ontario failed to net a single goal past Miska in the overtime, while Dauphin and Jordan Gross scored in the latter two of three shootout frames to give Tucson the 4-3 come-from-behind shootout victory.

Tucson will return to the TCC on Saturday for Teddy Bear Toss night and another match against the Ontario Reign. The puck drops then, at 7:05 pm.