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Steenbergen, Roadrunners roll past Ontario in 5-0 win

By: Alexander Kinkopf
The Roadrunners extended their unbeaten streak to seven games with a thoroughly convincing performance Saturday night, beating the Ontario Reign by a 5-0 score in front of 5,398 at Tucson Arena.
Merrick Madsen earned his third shutout of the season, stopping all 32 shots he faced. He is tied with the Iowa Wild’s Kaapo Kahkonen for the second-most shutouts in the AHL.
“I wanted to come here this year and leave an impression,” Madsen said after the game. “I got called up and thankfully I’ve had the guys in front of me supporting me really well and I’ve been able to find a groove a little bit. When you’re scoring five goals you’re giving us a pretty good chance to win regardless of my shutout or not.”
Those five goals were the product of a balanced performance that saw nine different players find the score sheet.
“We were prepared,” head coach Jay Varady noted. “Tonight I thought we played a pretty solid game from the start, playing the way we want to play, playing fast and pressure all over the ice.”
The Roadrunners wouldn’t find the back of the net until the early stages of the second period, when Tyler Steenbergen scored the all-important Teddy Bear Toss goal, cuing over 5,500 plush animals to come raining down from Tucson Arena’s stands - a new franchise record.
For Steenbergen, it was his second-straight year netting such a goal; he scored a Teddy Bear Toss goal for the Swift Current Broncos (WHL) last season.
“They’re obviously exciting goals to score,” Steenbergen said. “It’s always special when you score for charity, to put some presents under some kids’ trees. An awesome feeling.”
“It’s a great event,” Varady added. “Obviously before it starts you’re a little nervous, you want that first goal to get the bear out of the way and them thrown onto the ice, but it’s great for the community, it’s a great event, it’s fun to see all those bears on the ice.”
Just past the midway point of the second, Lane Pederson gave the Roadrunners a 2-0 lead when he scored for the second-straight game, beating Ontario’s Peter Budaj with a wrist-shot from the left circle.
Domenic Alberga registered his first-career AHL point with the primary assist.
Less than two minutes later, Laurent Dauphin tacked onto the Roadrunners’ lead, extending his team-leading point streak to seven games when he stuffed a puck through Budaj’s five-hole with 7:38 left in the middle frame.
Steenbergen scored his second of the night with 6:23 left to play in regulation, giving the Roadrunners a 4-0 lead when he slammed home a loose rebound to register the first multi-point game of his pro career.
With 5:34 remaining on the clock, Trevor Cheek upped the Roadrunners’ lead to 5-0 when he buried his third goal of the season from the high slot, registering his 50th-career AHL point.
“I thought we played a good game tonight,” Varady noted in recollect. “I thought structurally we were good, I thought we had good compete and we came out on top, I thought we played a pretty good game.”
With the win, Tucson’s record improves to 14-5-2-1.
The Roadrunners will continue their home stand on Tuesday night when they host the Colorado Eagles at Tucson Arena, where the puck is scheduled to drop just after 7:05 PM.
*Photos courtesy: Chris Hook & Kate Dibildox