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NEWS & STATS

Tucson strong in defeating San Diego, 3-2

By: Alexander Kinkopf
 
 
Backboned by a spectacular performance from Hunter Miska, the Roadrunners defeated the Gulls by a 3-2 score Friday night at the Valley View Casino Center, improving their record to a perfect 2-0-0-0 mark.
 
Miska, with 42 saves on the evening, a new career-high, kept a Gulls offense that fired away for 44 shots in check, subduing San Diego’s fast start and desperate finish to earn his first win of the year.
 
“I felt good right from the start,” Miska told Adrian Denny postgame. “It’s nice to get a few shots right there early and I was in the zone from the get-go. Hats off to the boys for putting the puck in the net, and I thought we had a really good game.”
 
The Roadrunners’ offense capitalized on their goaltender’s play to take an early lead just over eight minutes into the contest, Michael Bunting burying Tucson’s first goal of the evening after collecting a gorgeous feed from Conor Garland, who was active from the start in his return to the lineup.
 
 
Defenseman Cam Dineen, making his professional debut Friday, registered his first pro point on Bunting’s marker, credited for the secondary assist.
 
“I think we battled hard from the beginning,” Dineen said in recollect. “We got a lead, and [the Gulls] battled back, but we stayed with it, chipped pucks out, worked hard, and it paid off in the end. Miska had a great game and made some key saves, so it was a good overall effort.”
 
In the second, the Roadrunners were quick to tack onto their lead, adding a pair of goals in a 1:09 span in the early stages of the middle frame.
 
Trevor Cheek beat San Diego’s Kevin Boyle with a backhand from point-blank range after corralling a pass from Tyler Steenbergen, who delivered a fantastic puck from behind the Gulls’ net.
 
 
Just over a minute later, after Michael Bunting forced a turnover deep in San Diego territory as the result of yet another heavy forecheck, Trevor Murphy pinched in from the point, opened for a clean look, and wristed home the team’s third goal of the night to give the Roadrunners a 3-0 lead with 13:36 left in the second period.
 
 
The Gulls finally beat Miska with 11:18 to play in the middle frame, their 24th shot of the night to get on the board via a goal from Pontus Aberg.
 
With 3:28 to play in regulation, San Diego cut Tucson’s lead to one when Sam Carrick beat Miska for the Gulls’ second tally of the evening.
 
The Roadrunners, despite the Gulls pulling goaltender Kevin Boyle for an extra attacker in the waning moments, would hold on to secure the win, their fifth-straight against their I-8 Border division rival.
 
Tucson plays the second of its three-game road trip Saturday night when it takes on the Bakersfield Condors at Rabobank Arena, where the puck is scheduled to drop just after 7:00 PM PST.
 
 
*Photos courtesy: San Diego Gulls