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Garland's overtime strike pushes Tucson past Rockford

By: Alexander Kinkopf
 
 
Conor Garland’s overtime game-winning goal with 27 seconds left in the extra frame lifted the Roadrunners to a 4-3 victory over the Rockford IceHogs Friday night at Tucson Arena, improving the team’s record to 4-0-0-1.
 
Rockford managed to overcome a three-goal deficit Tucson built midway through the second, but the Roadrunners found their footing late in dealing the final blow.
 
“I think we had a little bit of a slip-up there letting them get back into it, but good teams find ways to win games and that’s what we did tonight,” Garland said following the victory. “We had great goaltending and some timely kills, but we’ve got to clean things up tomorrow.”
 
Just over 10 minutes into the game, Michael Bunting redirected a Kyle Capobianco shot out of mid-air and past Rockford’s Kevin Lankinen to give Tucson a 1-0 lead.
 
 
David Ullstrom, with the secondary assist on the goal with his offensive zone faceoff win, registered his first point with the Roadrunners in what was his first game with the club, also notching his first North American pro point since April 16, 2013 as a member of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
 
Early in the second, Laurent Dauphin and Adam Helewka connected on a power play to up Tucson’s lead to 2-0, Helewka the beneficiary of a Dauphin return pass, netting his team-leading fifth goal of the campaign.
 
 
With 9:36 to play in the middle frame, Trevor Cheek gave the Roadrunners what seemed to be a commanding 3-0 lead when we walked in alone after receiving a generous feed from Helewka, beating Lankinen with ease to net his second of the season.
 
 
The IceHogs would respond to net their first goal of the evening 22 seconds after Cheek’s tally, cutting the Roadrunners’ lead to two.
 
In the third, Rockford added two more to tie the game 3-3 while the Roadrunners struggled to stay out of the penalty box, called for three minor infractions during the final frame.
 
“It was discipline for me, I think we got ourselves into some penalty problems midway through the third and they were able to get back in the game,” Head Coach Jay Varady said in regard to the third period. “We know they’ve got a good power play, they’ve got good players over there, and we gave them a little time and space to get back into the game.”
 
Tied after regulation, the Roadrunners extended to overtime for the second-straight game. After trading chances on both ends, Jens Looke broke up a Rockford rush in the defensive zone and transitioned to find Garland with a lead pass up the ice. Garland, with plenty of time and space, beat Lankinen to secure the 4-3 win.
 
 
“A lot of credit goes to [Looke] for that one,” Garland stated. “We were at the end of our shift and he drove all the way back into our d-zone to break up a play to create the play that allowed me to get that shot there.”
 
The teams will reconvene for a rematch Saturday night at Tucson Arena, where the puck is scheduled to drop just after 7:05 PM.
 
 
*Lead Photo: Kate Dibildox
*Footer Photo: Chris Hook