By: Alex Kinkopf
November 22, 2017 10:00 PM
This one felt good.
Catapulted by Dylan Strome’s four-point outburst, and backboned by Adin Hill’s 29-save shutout performance, the Roadrunners beat the San Diego Gulls on home ice for the first time in franchise history Wednesday night in the club’s 5-0 victory at Tucson Arena.
It had been a long time coming.
“It’s nice.” Hill said of the win. “That’s a team that’s been known to put up a few goals on us, so it’s refreshing to get a win in front of our home fans here in Tucson with the home crowd, and we’ve got to keep this momentum going in to the weekend.”
Nick Merkley got things moving in the right direction at the midway point of the opening frame when he jammed a rebound just past the goal-line, beating San Diego’s Kevin Boyle for his team-leading ninth goal of the campaign.
Merkley’s goal ties him for the lead in that department among all rookies.
Just over five minutes later, and while the Roadrunners were operating on their second power play of the evening, Dylan Strome walked in from the left circle and wristed a shot high to the far corner to up Tucson’s lead to 2-0.
Seven minutes into the middle frame, Kyle Wood joined an offensive zone rush, finding open space to receive a pass from Tyler Gaudet, and beat San Diego’s Boyle with a wrist shot to give the Roadrunners a commanding 3-0 lead.
In the opening moments of the third, Dylan Strome streaked in alone on a breakaway, utilizing a nifty move to beat Kevin Boyle through the five-hole to record his second goal of the evening and to give the Roadrunners a 4-0 lead.
For insurance purposes, Mike Sislo walked into a Dylan Strome pass with just under 10 minutes left to play in regulation, rocketing a slap shot off the cross-bar and in to give the Roadrunners a 5-0 lead – the night’s eventual final score.
Strome finished the night with two goals and two assists. He has six multi-point performances through his first 13 AHL games and leads all rookies in scoring with 22 points (6G, 16A).
“It’s obviously fun when you can get chances and contribute, and when the team’s winning, everyone’s happy and having a good time,” Strome said following the game. “We’ve got to continue to work hard so we can do it on a consistent basis, we’ve got to keep it up.”
The win was the Roadrunners’ first against the Gulls at Tucson Arena in eight tries.
San Diego entered the night with the league’s top power play unit; the Roadrunners nixed all four of the Gulls’ power play opportunities.
Kyle Capobianco’s two assists now give him 10 on the season; he leads all rookie defensemen in that category.
With a record of 9-2-2-1, the Roadrunners continue to sit atop the Western Conference and Pacific Division with a .750 win percentage.
The club will continue its five-game home stand Friday night when they host the Stockton Heat at Tucson Arena, where the puck is scheduled to drop just after 7:05 PM.
Photos courtesy: Chris Hook & Kate Dibildox