Photo credit: @RoadrunnersAHL
By Marko Ukalovic
SAN JOSE, Calif. — The Tucson Roadrunners may have had revenge on their mind as their special teams came out in full force for the Pacific Division leaders as they reversed their fortunes with seven unanswered goals in a 8-2 route of the San Jose Barracuda on Wednesday evening at SAP Center.
After being humiliated last Saturday night 7-1, Tucson has now won six out of their last seven games. However, San Jose has done the opposite, losing seven out of their last eight games.
San Jose (5-9-0-1) drew first blood 69 seconds to start the game. Alex True led a rush out to Noah Gregor, who skated down the right slot. Gregor then fed a cross-ice pass over to a wide-open Evan Weinger, who snapped home a one-timer past Roadrunners goalie Eric Comrie for his fourth goal of the season.
Tucson (12-4-0-0) scored the equalizer while San Jose was on the power play. Hudson Fasching connected with Beau Bennett and he beat ‘Cuda goalie Josef Korenar with a shot for a short-handed goal. Bennett’s second goal of the season came at the 8:03 mark.
The Roadrunners gained their first lead of the night right at the end of the opening frame. Bennett returned the favor this time feeding Nick Merkley, who beat Korenar for his second goal of the season with just nine seconds left before the intermission.
It was a back-breaking goal the ‘Cuda would not recover from as the Roadrunners took over the game in the second period.
“We just didn’t show up in any facet of the game,” said ‘Cuda captain John McCarthy. “PK was bad, PP was bad, 5-on-5 was bad. It’s disappointing cause the game before we show up and have four lines going. It’s a huge letdown to come out with an effort like that.”
Tucson’s power play gave them a two-goal lead early in the middle frame. Kyle Capobianco fed a pass from the point to the left over to Brayden Burke who delayed before lasering a wrist shot top-shelf past Korenar for his for his sixth goal of the season at the 4:50 mark. Bennett received the secondary assist to give him a three-point night.
The ‘Cuda were burnt a second consecutive time for going into the sin-bin. Lane Pedersen’s shot attempt from the point deflected off a ‘Cuda defender’s skate that caromed right over to Michael Bunting as he caught Korenar out of position for an easy tap in. Bunting’s third goal of the season came at the 15:48 mark.
Then before Bunting’s goal could be announced, Tucson struck again 17 seconds later. Fasching centered a pass over to Tyler Steenbergen, who also ended the night with a three-point night (three assists), whose shot was initially saved by Korenar. However, the rebound trickled out in front of the crease where Nate Schnarr was there to clean up the rebound for his first professional career goal at the 17:05 mark.
That goal chased Korenar out of the game as he was replaced by backup goaltender Andrew Shortridge to start the third period by ‘Cuda head coach Roy Sommer.
“If you were to grade these guys from one to five, they were all fours the other night. Tonight, I don’t think there was anybody that was just average,” said Sommer.
Tucson didn’t let up in the third period as they kept pouring it on. Fasching scored his second goal of the night when Steenbergen centered a pass from just below the faceoff circle. Fasching snapped a wrist shot top-shelf into the upper right corner for his fourth goal of the season at the 2:11 mark.
Jon Martin scored his second goal against his former team and fifth of the season after receiving a wrap-around pass from behind the net from Jeremy Gregoire and Martin punched home the puck at the 10:03 mark.
San Jose ended the seven unanswered goals draught late in the third period when Nick Meloche led a 3-on-1 odd man rush into the Tucson zone. He fed a pass over to the Maxim Letunov at the left slot and the Russian forward fired a wrist shot top-shelf for his fifth goal of the season at the 14:48 mark.
Jordan Gross completed the scoring for Tucscon when Steenbergen fed him a pass at the right slot from behind the net and he rifled a wrist shot past Shortridge for third goal of the season at the 17:55 mark.
“You know against a team that leads the division you should be scared to play against them,” said Sommer. “And we weren’t. They were desperate and we were just watching (them on the ice).”
Comrie had a light night making 18 saves on 20 shots in earning his third victory of the season and remains undefeated at 3-0-0. Korenar was on the losing end of the blowout making 16 saves on 21 shots. Shortridge made seven saves on 10 shots in mop-up duty.
GAME NOTES: San Jose was 0/2 on the power play. Tucscon was 2/4.
‘Cuda defenseman received a game misconduct penalty with under six minute remaining in the game after the teams skirmished near the Tucson bench.
The San Jose Sharks recalled forward Antti Suomela on Tuesday for the first time since last December. He had a three-game point streak going before being recalled.
Joachim Blichfeld, who went scoreless in the game, leads the ‘Cuda in goals (6), points (10) and power play goals (3).
The announced attendance was 2,713.
UP NEXT: The Barracuda continue their four-game homestand as they host the Colorado Eagle on Friday, November 22 at 7:00 pm at SAP Center. Fans are encouraged to bring a stuffed animal with them to the game to participate in the annual Teddy Bear Toss Night.