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Roadrunners comeback falls short, lose to Chicago 6-3

Tucson’s slow start made a comeback a tall order; they almost delivered

Photo courtesy of Tucson Roadrunners

The Tucson Roadrunners (19-10-3-1) fell to the Chicago Wolves (22-12-3-1) by a score of 6-3 in their first home game of 2019.

Calvin Pickard (conditioning loan) started in his third straight game for Tucson, but was pulled within the first 10 minutes of the game after allowing 3 unanswered goals. At that time, Hunter Miska took Pickard’s place in between the pipes.

The Roadrunners were quick to jump in defense of Pickard, however, citing a lack of defense in front of the goaltender rather than a poor performance in net.

“I thought we hung (Pickard) out to dry, really,” Roadrunners coach Jay Varady said. “He got a backdoor, a breakaway six or seven seconds later, and then a tip shot. So it was a situation where we as a team needed a wake-up call.”

By the end of the first period, Chicago held a steep 4-0 lead over Tucson. Much of the problems Tucson faced, was their lack of offense. They totaled only 3 shots on goal in the first 20 minutes. A comeback for Tucson seemed to be a very tough challenge.

In an attempt to spark energy for Tucson, Dakota Mermis dropped the gloves to fight with Curtis McKenzie at the end of the first period.

“I think (Mermis) was stepping up as the captain,” Nick Merkley said. “Obviously he didn’t fight an easy customer from (Chicago), so yeah, I think it was a changing point in the game.”

Tucson picked up the second period by holding Chicago to only 9 more shots. Lane Pederson would be the lone scorer in the second frame giving the Roadrunners a 4-1 deficit heading in the the final period. Mermis, once again, tried to pick another fight, but found no suitors. That’s where the course of the game would begin to change.

Just 2:21 into the third period, Nick Merkley would find a quick tip in shot opportunity to cut the deficit to two goals. Five minutes later, Tyler Steenbergen took a far shot past Oscar Dansk to ultimately make it 4-3. It seemed very plausible for a Roadrunners comeback at this point in the game.

Unfortunately, Chicago’s Tomas Hyka decided to deny the opportunity, scoring two more goals for Chicago — including an empty net goal in the final two minutes — to give himself a hat trick, and his team a 6-3 win over Tucson.

Tucson will come back on Saturday to host Chicago once more, with a chance at revenge. Puck drops at the Tucson Convention Center at 7:05 pm.