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Shot-heavy Roadrunners can't sustain scoring pace late in 3-2 loss to Stockton

By: Alexander Kinkopf
 
 
Unable to maintain pace on the scoreboard late, the Roadrunners suffered a 3-2 loss to the Stockton Heat Saturday night at Tucson Arena, splitting the weekend series against their Pacific Division foe.
 
For the Roadrunners, it was their first regulation loss of the season when entering the third period with a lead; they held a 9-0-1-1 record in such situations prior.
 
“I thought we had a little letdown there to start the third period,” head coach Jay Varady stressed. “[Stockton] got rolling a little bit and then we had some opportunities, but we didn’t bury those opportunities and we let them off the hook a bit.”
 
Stockton’s Tyler Parsons put forth a strong effort in net; the Roadrunners outshot the Heat by a 41-20 count, more than a 2-to-1 margin.
 
“Yeah that was a good goalie; he caught some fire,” defenseman Kyle Capobianco said of Parsons. “He was feeling good and we just couldn’t put it past him.”
 
Adam Helewka struck for the game’s opening goal, giving the Roadrunners a 1-0 lead with 12:17 to play in the first period when he finished a marvelous passing sequence with a back-door tap-in as the team operated on its first power play of the night. Helewka’s tally was his ninth of the campaign, tying Hudson Fasching for the team lead.
 
 
Nick Merkley registered the secondary assist on the goal, extending his point streak to four games.
 
Just over six minutes into the middle frame, Lane Pederson gave the Roadrunners a 2-0 lead when he beat Parsons from point-blank range, netting his eighth goal of the season.
 
 
Capobianco dished out the primary assists on both of the Roadrunners’ goals, upping his point total to 25 (4G, 21A), which leads the team and stands as the third highest total among AHL defensemen.
 
“I think he’s just a dynamic offensive defenseman,” Varady said of Capobianco. “He does a lot of it with his skating and his vision and his ability to make plays.”
 
The Heat responded with three unanswered goals, including two from Matthew Phillips. Buddy Robinson deposited the night’s eventual game-winner with 17:17 left to play in regulation.
 
“I think [our] shot generation [was a positive],” Varady added. “We created some opportunities that way, we had some extended zone time with some possession, but as you do that you need to find not only the first chance, but the second chance and the rebounds and continue to build on that, and I think that’s where our focus is going to be moving forward.”
 
Hunter Miska stopped 17 of the 20 shots he faced, suffering his fifth loss of the season.
 
The teams will meet again this coming Friday night, this time in California at Stockton Arena, where the puck is scheduled to drop just after 8:00 PM MST.
 
 
*Photos courtesy: Kate Dibildox & Chris Hook