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Roadrunners fall to Ontario as Bunting records 100th point with franchise

By: Alexander Kinkopf
 
Photo: Kate Dibildox             
 
The Roadrunners couldn’t recover from the Ontario Reign’s early second period outburst Saturday night at Tucson Arena, falling by a 5-2 final score.
 
The loss was the seventh straight for the club, which is the longest ever recorded in franchise history. The team also dropped its eighth consecutive game on home ice, which is a new record as well.
 
For the fifth time in their past six games, the Roadrunners eclipsed the 30-shot mark, totaling 35 Saturday evening, but failed to score more than two goals for the 13th time in their past 16 games. They are 2-11-2-1 during that stretch.
 
“We have shots, we have opportunities, we have chances,” Michael Bunting stressed, frustrated. “If that wasn’t happening we’d be in real trouble, but we’re not. I think we’re definitely in a good spot and we can make this playoff run.”
 
Coupled with the Colorado Eagles’ 2-0 win over the San Diego Gulls, the Roadrunners find themselves seven points out of the Pacific Division’s fourth and final playoff spot.
 
“We’re in a mess right now; we haven’t been winning hockey games,” head coach Jay Varady said. “Can’t look for excuses, there are no excuses. Tomorrow we’ve got to step away from the rink and then get back to work.”
 
Following a scoreless opening frame, the Reign rattled off three goals in a 3:31 span to take a sudden 3-0 lead.
 
Adin Hill was pulled for Hunter Miska following Ontario’s rally; he stopped nine of the 12 shots he faced in 26:03 of action.
 
Just past the midway mark of the second, Michael Bunting connected on a one-time shot from the right dot to get the Roadrunners on the board.
 
 
Bunting’s goal, a power play marker teed up by Robbie Russo, was his 100th point in a Roadrunners uniform; he is the franchise all-time leader in that department.
 
“I love playing here in Tucson, I love playing in Arizona in this organization, I want to be back for years to come and I’m planning on it,” he said. “That’s a milestone, I’ve got teammates to thank for that, but I’m not really focused on the individual points right now, I want to get going on making the playoffs.”
 
Ontario responded a minute later to reclaim a three-goal lead, going up 4-1.
 
With 6:39 remaining in the second, Michael Chaput pressed Ontario’s breakout, causing a turnover that Brayden Burke recovered before a skated in to tuck a shot just inside the far-side post.
 
 
Burke’s goal, his 11th of the season, was also his second in as many games.
 
In the third, the Roadrunners outshot the Reign by a 12-4 count, but Ontario would be the only team to add to its goal total.
 
The Roadrunners will venture out on a two game road trip that begins on Friday night against the Stockton Heat at Stockton Arena, where the puck is scheduled to drop just after 7:00 PM PST.
 
Photo: Kate Dibildox