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Ullstrom's backhand stuns San Diego, sweeps weekend

By: Alexander Kinkopf
 
 
With 15.3 seconds left in overtime, David Ullstrom’s backhand chip shot secured a 4-3 victory for the Roadrunners over the San Diego Gulls Saturday night at the Valley View Casino Center, their sixth-straight win over their division rival dating back to last April.
 
Overcoming two one-goal deficits, and without their first lead until well into the third period, the Roadrunners played a stable, aggressive game to stave off the Gulls for the third time this season.
 
“It definitely goes a long way,” Michael Bunting said of the team’s grounded in-game mindset. “Not getting too high on yourself after a goal, kind of just staying in the game, and not getting too low after they score, that’s definitely huge. I felt that when they tied it up we didn’t take our foot off the pedal at all and we ended up winning in overtime.”
 
After a scoreless opening frame, Tucson faced its first deficit when San Diego’s Kalle Kossila broke open the scoring just over a minute into the second period.
 
Just under 10 minutes later, David Ullstrom, the recipient of a fantastic pass from Conor Garland, beat San Diego’s Jared Coreau while working with a wealth of time and space, tying the game 1-1 with 8:41 left in the second.
 
 
The Gulls reclaimed a lead with 4:46 left in the second, Ben Thomson’s goal giving the home team a 2-1 edge.
 
However, in the dying stages of the second as the Roadrunners worked on their second power play of the evening, Mario Kempe stepped into a one-time shot from the top of the right circle to tie the game 2-2 with 18 seconds left in the period.
 
 
Kempe’s goal, his first of the season, gave him a total of four points (1G, 3A) in his two games back with the Roadrunners.
 
For the Roadrunners, it was their first road power play goal of the season; they had previously gone 0-for-20 away from Tucson Arena.
 
Jordan Gross’ first professional goal proved to be a gigantic one, the rookie stepping into a wrist shot that whistled through traffic and into the net to give the Roadrunners their first lead of the evening, a 3-2 count with 12:21 left in regulation.
 
 
Kalle Kossila would score his second of the night to tie the game for the Gulls with just over nine minutes to play.
 
For the third time in eight games this season, the Roadrunners advance to overtime. Though held off the board during a power play in the extra frame, they executed shortly thereafter, Michael Bunting winning a battle along the boards and finding a driving David Ullstrom with a pass. Ullstrom, on his backhand, beat San Diego’s Coreau to ice the game with just 15 seconds shy of a shootout.
 
 
“It definitely feels nice to get four points on the road on a tough road trip travel-wise, but we came out with four points,” Bunting added. “Me and [Russo] battled hard there on the wall and [Ullstrom] drove hard really well, he beat his man to the net and I just put it right on his stick and he put it in.”
 
Ullstrom now has three goals and five points in just four games with the Roadrunners.
 
With two assists in the win, Conor Garland totaled seven points (2G, 5A) during the weekend and has nine (3G, 6A) in his last four games.
 
Hunter Miska stopped 29 of the 32 shots he faced to earn his second win in as many nights, and is 3-1-1 on the year.
 
The Roadrunners, now 6-1-0-1 on the season, return home for a week of practice before continuing their four-game road trip Friday night against the Colorado Eagles at the Budweiser Events Center, where the puck is scheduled to drop just after 6:05 PM PST.
 
 
Photos courtesy: San Diego Gulls