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Roadrunners tick to earn 4-1 victory to kick-start road trip

By: Alexander Kinkopf
Solid to start, and sustained. Some would call it a full 60-minute effort.
The Roadrunners kicked off their season-long six-game road trip in prime fashion Friday night, topping the Ontario Reign by a 4-1 score at Citizens Business Bank Arena. There were very few breaks in the team's convincing defeat of their division counterpart.
The team’s record away from home improved to 13-3-1-1 with the victory.
Hunter Miska stood solid yet again, turning away 22 of the 23 shots he faced in earning his 14th win of the season. He’s won each of his last seven decisions, and is now a perfect 7-0-0 on the road.
Support for Miska came early in the form of a pair of Mario Kempe first period goals.
Just over nine minutes into the opening frame, Kempe created space in the slot to receive a Conor Garland pass, and wristed a shot past Ontario’s Jack Campbell to give the Roadrunners a 1-0 lead.
Kempe upped the Roadrunners’ lead to 2-0 when he fired home a shot after receiving a pass from Laurent Dauphin, again while positioned in the slot.
Ontario would register its lone goal of the evening when Brett Sutter struck a mere 1:05 minutes into the second period to momentarily cut the Roadrunners’ lead to one.
In the third, Conor Garland, following up a zone entry as he waded with space in the high-slot of Ontario’s zone, received a pass from Lawson Crouse and beat Campbell with a wrist shot to give the Roadrunners a 3-1 lead with 12:21 to play.
With his goal, Garland matched his point total (14) from his 2016-17 rookie season.
With 7:32 left to play, Michael Bunting corralled a bouncing puck as he focused on maintaining control with Ontario defensemen present, and beat Ontario’s netminder with a shot from the right hash-marks.
Artur Tyanulin registered his first American Hockey League point with the assist on Bunting’s goal.
The Roadrunners are now 12-1-0-1 when leading after two periods this season, and have a +16 scoring differential in third periods.
Now with a 24-13-2-1 record, which calculates in at a .638 win percentage, the Roadrunners continue to sit atop the Pacific Division.
The team continues its road trip Saturday night when they take on the San Diego Gulls at the Valley View Casino Center, where the puck is scheduled to drop just after 8:00 PM MST.