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Tucson endures first regulation loss Saturday to Rockford

By: Alexander Kinkopf
The Roadrunners suffered their first regulation loss Saturday night to the Rockford IceHogs at Tucson Arena, topped by a 5-3 count.
Tucson was the 29th team in the American Hockey League to fill its loss column, only the Springfield Thunderbirds and San Jose Barracuda remain unbeaten. Now with a .750 win percentage, the Roadrunners have matched their six-game starts from the two years previous, when they began with 4-1-1-0 marks. They currently stand at 4-1-0-1.
After the Roadrunners built a 3-1 lead early in the second period, the IceHogs responded with four unanswered goals to earn a weekend split.
“We’ve got to get back to work,” Head Coach Jay Varady stressed following the game. “I think we let off the gas for a period of time during the game, they got back in it, and again it was discipline for us, we can’t be a team that takes six penalties a night, so we have to straighten those things out.”
Jens Looke netted his third goal of the season just over five minutes into the contest, giving the Roadrunners a 1-0 lead as he upped his season point-total to five (3G, 2A) in just three games played.
“I see growth and development in his game,” Varady said of Looke. “He’s a guy that is coming along each day, doing the right things, and I think he’s getting rewarded for sticking with the details.”
Rockford evened the score 1-1 at the midway point of the first.
With just under five minutes to play in the opening frame, Lane Pederson buried his first goal of the season after receiving a pass from Tyler Steenbergen, giving the Roadrunners a 2-1 lead.
Early in the second, Trevor Murphy beat Rockford’s Collin Delia with a slap shot to up the Roadrunners’ lead to 3-1.
The IceHogs would net a pair of power play goals in a 22-second span to tie the game 3-3, and add two more in the third, including an empty-net marker with 1:14 left in regulation.
“I think it’s lessons learned,” Varady said when asked for his overall thoughts. “I think there were key moments in the game where we could’ve comeback, where we could’ve found our way back into the game, but we couldn’t do it. I think we let frustration set in a little bit, and we need to understand that we’re a working team and we need to work for an entire 60 minutes.”
Hunter Miska stopped 21 of the 25 shots he faced in the loss.
Despite the loss, the Roadrunners outshot the IceHogs by a heavy 38-26 margin.
The Roadrunners begin a four-game road trip Friday night against the Ontario Reign at Citizens Business Bank Arena, where the puck is scheduled to drop just after 7:00 PM PST.
Lead Photo: Kate Dibildox
Footer Photo: Chris Hook