The long wait was finally over. The Tucson Roadrunners took the ice against the San Jose Barracuda on Sunday afternoon, besting their “home” opponents in an empty Tucson Arena 2-1 in overtime.
“It’s a great way to start,” Roadrunners coach Steve Potvin said after the game. “You definitely want to start with a win. I think a lot of us had goosebumps before entering the ice.
“Unfortunately we miss the fans, but just being around the game and have an opportunity to compete really got us excited.”
It was a tightly contested battle between the two teams on Sunday, with the first score not made until the waning seconds of the second period. Leading up to that goal, scored by Tucson’s Tyler Steenbergen, both teams seemed to have trouble generating quality chances.
Plenty of potentially quality opportunities were killed when teams attempted to make centering passes into traffic in front of the net. The plenty of shots that did reach on net, however, were right to the chests of Ivan Posvetov and Alexi Melnichuk of Tucson and San Jose respectively.
It was from Steenbergen’s goal on that the game started to pick up its pace. In the opening minutes of the third period, San Jose started to generate plenty of high danger chances which ultimately led to John Lenoard getting an easy breakaway opportunity to blast past Ivan Prosvetov to tie the game at a goal apiece.
From there, defensive battles picked up and kept the game interesting to close out regulation. San Jose stepped up their chances significantly especially, putting on 37 shots onto Prosvetov total.
“Our goalie was really strong tonight,” Potvin said. “(Prosvetov) made some exceptional saves all through the night and really gave us an opportunity to win the game. When your goalie is going like that it really gives you confidence.”
As the clock ticked down to end regulation, it almost seemed as if the Barracuda had all the momentum, but Tucson was holding their own to keep it tied and forcing overtime.
It was early in that OT period where Cam Dineen would be the Roadrunners saving grace, blasting a short side shot past Melnichuk to give the Tucson their first win of season.
The Barracuda and Roadrunners will be at it again on Monday with the puck drop at the Tucson Arena set for 7pm MT. Tucson will once again be designated as the “visiting” team for the next game.