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Calder Countdown: Hats Off, Pederson

Tucson grabs important two points in weekend opener, gains ground in Pacific Division.

Photo courtesy of Tucson Roadrunners

The Tucson Roadrunners captured a big 3-2 overtime win over the San Jose Barracuda on Saturday, giving the team a fighting chance for a playoff ticket.

“It was (a) big (win),” Roadrunners coach Jay Varady said after the game. “It would have been nice to get that thing done in regulation. I thought we had some pretty good chances right at the end there, but we’ll take the overtime win.”

Tucson’s win was catapulted off of Lane Pederson’s first professional hat trick, including the all-important game winning goal in overtime.

“I had unbelievable passes by everybody,” Pederson said. “I probably could have capitalized earlier, but I had ( Jeremy Gregoire), (Brayden Burke) and (Michael Chaput) with real good passes and it was just right place, right time.”

Varady provided much praise for Pederson’s performance and the importance he brings to the team.

“I think it was just fitting that he scored the overtime goal,” Varady said. “I thought he was good all night long: creating chances for us, doing the right things and playing the right way.

“I think the easiest way to describe (Pederson) is a culture carrier. He’s a guy our organization is looking for in terms of how we want to play and does it every day whether it’s practice, games. He’s there and he’s doing the right things.”

The win puts Tucson at 65 points on the season, just 6 points back from San Jose and the Colorado Eagles, who hold third and fourth place respectively. Tucson gets another chance at San Jose on Sunday, plus a chance at Colorado on Friday night.

“I think every point is important at this time of year, especially when you’re playing teams ahead of you,” Varady said.

A Calder Cup playoff berth isn’t guaranteed for Tucson yet, but the next week remains very important if it wants to keep its playoff appearance alive.

“We’re fighting every game and we got to keep winning,” Pederson said. “We can’t wait for other teams to help us out and get us into the playoffs. We got to do out part and keep out good games together here, and with efforts like that most nights are going to come out on the right side.”

Tucson has been heating up at the right time, winning four of their last five games. They still have 3 games in hand to the Colorado Eagles, so getting tied in points at that point is very much within the realm of possibility.

An important key to these upcoming games, is for the Roadrunners to keep the momentum moving in their favor. They improved as time went by in Saturday’s game and they kept a high offensive zone time in the last part of the final frame.

Tucson returns to action Sunday afternoon at 4:05 p.m., facing off against the same Barracuda team.

For in-depth weekly Roadrunners coverage, follow Rob Leano on Twitter @RobLeano1