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NEWS & STATS

Shot-heavy Roadrunners come up short against Ontario

By: Alexander Kinkopf
 
Photo: Brayden Burke            
 
The Roadrunners fired away for their second-highest shot total of the season Friday night, putting up 47, but fell short on the scoreboard in a 3-1 loss to the Ontario Reign at Tucson Arena.
 
“It’s tough, we only scored one goal again, it’s tough to win hockey games when you score only one goal,” said Brayden Burke, the team’s lone scorer. “We put a lot of pucks on net, we’ve just got to bear down tomorrow, it’s a big game tomorrow. We’ve got to come ready to play, finish our chances and stick with it here.”
 
With the Colorado Eagles’ 1-0 win over the San Diego Gulls and the Stockton Heat’s 4-1 victory over the Bakersfield Condors, the Roadrunners are now five points out of the Pacific Division’s final playoff spot and just two points ahead of the sixth-place slot.
 
Despite eclipsing the 30-shot mark for the fourth time in their last five games, the Roadrunners struggled to find the back of the net.
 
“It’s ‘stick to it’ time,” head coach Jay Varady stressed. “If you’re not generating scoring chances, then there’s probably some things you have to look at a little deeper when you’re creating shots, we have to stay with the process.”
 
“I thought we had some really good looks tonight,” Varady added. “For us, we just have to stay with that mindset, we have to just keep going to the net, getting to the rebounds and second chances, that’s where our focus is at.”
 
Forward Michael Chaput made his Roadrunners debut, finishing the evening with two shots registered.
 
“He’s a great addition for us in terms of depth, poise, veteran leadership, [play] up the middle, penalty kill, and power play,” Varady said of the trade deadline acquisition. :He did a little bit of everything for us tonight, and I think that’s his game.”
 
Following a scoreless opening frame, the Reign struck for two goals in a 1:41 span to take a 2-0 lead just prior to the midway mark of the second period.
 
With just over four minutes left to play in the second, Brayden Burke, while looking to feed Nick Merkley at the front of the net during a power play, saw his pass attempt carom off of an Ontario defender and into the back of the net, cutting the Roadrunners’ deficit to 2-1.
 
 
For Burke, it was his 10th goal of the season. He leads all Roadrunners rookies with 23 points (10G, 13A).
 
The Roadrunners outshot the Reign by an 18-9 margin in the third, but were unable to even the score.
 
Ontario upped its lead to 3-1 with 3:30 remaining in regulation.
 
Adin Hill stopped 22 of the 25 shots he faced, suffering his 10th loss of the season.
 
The teams will meet again on Saturday night at Tucson Arena, where the puck is scheduled to drop just after 7:05 PM MST.
 
Photo: Chris Hook