by Marko Ukalovic
The Tucson Roadrunners are a team where if you give them an inch they will take a mile. This was the case as the Pacific Division leader scored five unaswered goals in a 5-1 victory over the San Jose Barracuda on Friday evening at Tucson Convention Center Arena.
San Jose has lost four games in a row. Tucson has won back to back to games and have won 10 out of their last 12 games to lead the division by seven points over Stockton. They are now 3-1 against the ‘Cuda.
San Jose (10-17-0-2) drew first blood on the back end of a 5-on-3 power play midway through the first period. Lukas Radil fed a pass over to Nick DeSimone who set up Alex True. The Finnish forward blasted a one-timer past Roadrunners goalie Ivan Prosvetov on the shortside for his ninth goal of the season at the 11:30 mark.
The Barracuda had the iced tilted in their favor in the opening 20 minutes as they dominated for three-quarters of the period as they outshot the Roadrunners 18-5.
Tucson (24-7-0-0) had two power play opportunites in the first period but they weren’t able to get the puck past ‘Cuda goalie Josef Korenar.
The second period featured multiple trips to the sinbin. San Jose had two power play chances to extend their lead but Prosvetov made some key saves to keep the deficit at one goal.
Tucson, with the 11th ranked power play in the AHL, finally cashed in on their fourth power play opportunity right near the end of the middle frame. Andy Miele sent a cross ice pass over to Jordan Gross who slammed home the puck past Korenar from atop the near faceoff circle for his fifth goal of the season at the 19:05 mark.
The Roadrunners didn’t take long to get their first lead of the game to start the third period. Miele, the former Hobey Baker Award winner, set up a pass out to Aaron Ness. The defenseman fired a shot from the left point past Korenar for his first goal with the Roadrunners since being reassigned from the Arizona Coyotes at the :56 mark.
Tucson scored an insurance goal when Lane Pederson set a cross ice pass over to a wide open Hudson Fasching. The right winger skated in and snapped a wrist shot past Korenar over the left arm for his 12th goal of the season at the 10:42 mark.
The Roadunners scored two empty nets goals at the end of the game to seal the deal. Bradyen Burke netted his 16th goal of the season at the 17:33 mark. Then Michael Chaput scored his 11th goal of the season at the 18:28 mark.
Prosvetov was the number one star of the night stopping 38 out of the 39 saves he faced to earn his 11th victory over the season. Korenar 14 saves on 17 shots in suffering his seventh straight loss.
GAME NOTES: San Jose was 1-for-5 on the power play. Tucson was 1-for-4.
‘Cuda forward Manny Weiderer returned back to the lineup after he missed the past three games dealing with a lower body injury.
The announced attendance was 3,372.
UP NEXT: The same two teams battle again on Saturday 1/4 at 6:05pm at Tucson Convention Center Arena.