By: Alex Kinkopf
December 22, 2017 9:32 PM
Despite netting the first goal of the evening, the Roadrunners faltered in losing to the Stockton Heat by a 4-1 score Friday night at Tucson Arena.
It would be one and done for the Roadrunners, who for just the third time in 24 games this season, were held to a single goal in regulation.
It was the team's third loss in four games to the Heat this year; they drop to second-place in the Pacific Division with the defeat, while Stockton jumps to first-place.
Hunter Miska got the call for his 11th start of the season, and matched Stockton’s Jon Gillies in an early goaltending duel that saw neither team score a goal until the 29th minute of play.
With 10:12 to play in the second period, Dylan Strome found a puck upon a turnover initiated by Lawson Crouse in front of Stockton’s net and beat Jon Gillies with a shot to the blocker side to give the Roadrunners a 1-0 lead.
“[Crouse] made a good play to turn it over, [Sislo] was open and was calling for it, and I think that kind of turned off the goalie a little bit, and then I got lucky and popped it off of his arm and in,” Strome said of his goal. “[Jon Gillies] made some great saves on me and a lot of other guys, he played well tonight, and we’re going to have to find a way to solve their goalies tomorrow.”
Strome’s goal, his ninth of the season, set a new franchise record as he extended his personal points streak to eight games – breaking the mark of seven set by Brendan Perlini, Christian Fischer, and Kyle Wood.
“I’m just feeling good with the puck, I’m feeling comfortable playing here where we’ve got a great group of guys,” Strome said. “I enjoy fighting for them every day and it makes it fun to come to the rink.”
Michael Bunting entered the evening with a seven-game point streak, but was held off of the score sheet Friday night.
Stockton responded 42 seconds after Strome’s tally to tie the game, and added another with 2:59 to play in the middle frame to take a 2-1 lead into the third.
The Roadrunners, after registering 20 shots in the second period, were held to just three during the final frame.
The Heat scored an empty-net goal with 1:05 to play, and added another on a power play with 25 seconds left.
With the loss, the Roadrunners’ record now stands at 13-8-2-1, calculating out at a .604 win percentage, good for second-place in the Pacific Division.
Hunter Miska turned away 31 of the 34 shots he faced in suffering his third loss of the season.
The teams will reconvene for a rematch Saturday night at Tucson Arena; which is also the Roadrunners’ final home game of the 2017 calendar year, and the Heat’s final visit this season. The puck is scheduled to drop just after 7:05 PM.
*Photos courtesy: Chris Hook