The Tucson Roadrunners have extended their historic second season. After defeating the San Jose Barracuda 3-0 in Game 4 of the Pacific Division Semi Finals on Friday night, the Roadrunners win their first playoff series 3-1 and will advance to the second round of the playoffs.
Much like all the past Tucson-San Jose games this season, Friday night’s game was a tight battle all throughout.
Friday featured a similar storyline to Wednesday’s game, where the Roadrunners heavily outshot the Barracuda 10-1 after the first period. In contrast to Wednesday, however, San Jose’s goaltender Antoine Bibeau was ready stop whatever pucks came his way, keeping it scoreless after the first 20 minutes.
But Tucson’s bombardment of shots would eventually get a few past Bibeau – with the first from Mario Kempe coming in just a few minutes into the second period.
At around the same time in the third period, Roadrunners forward Conor Garland got another one past Bibeau to make it 2-0 Tucson.
Mario Kempe then put the game on ice, when he scored the final empty net goal with just 59.9 seconds remaining in the game.
Adin Hill once again was dominant in the net, putting aside all of San Jose’s 25 shots. It was Hill’s second consecutive playoff shutout.
“I think we're playing better in front of (Hill),” Roadrunners head coach Mike Van Ryn said after the game. “I think he’s battling to find pucks right now too and that’s made a big difference. You see him looking around trying to find pucks. And I think our defense has done a lot better job boxing out forwards.
“It’s a collective group. Right now, there’s no one guy who wins anything. I mean, goaltending helps. You need everybody in playoffs, all four lines, and all six defensemen. And that’s what we had.”
With the series win, the Roadrunners will advance to the second round of the Calder Cup Playoffs – the Pacific Division Finals – against the Texas Stars, and Van Ryn is quick to provide his scouting report on their next opponent.
“They’re a quick team, they play fast, and they score a lot of goals,” he said. “It’s going to be a good test for us.”
Tucson played Texas four times this year and held quite the advantage in the entire series. The Roadrunners finished 3-1 against Texas during the regular season and three of the four games were one goal affairs.
The puck drops for Game 1 between Tucson and Texas next Wednesday at 7:05 p.m.