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Roadrunners strike in final seconds to secure 2-1 win, weekend sweep

By: Alexander Kinkopf
 
Photo: Chris Hook            
 
Michael Bunting’s goal in the waning seconds of regulation lifted the Roadrunners to a 2-1 victory over the San Jose Barracuda on Sunday evening at Tucson Arena, the team sweeping their weekend series against their Pacific Division counterpart.
 
With the win, the Roadrunners have moved to within four points of a playoff spot. The team has earned win in five of its past six games (5-1-0-0), and are 3-1-0-0 through the first four games of their current six-game home stand.
 
“Winning’s better than losing, there’s no doubt about that,” head coach Jay Varady said of the team’s turnaround. “For us, it’s no different, we enjoy this tonight and then we get back to work, we move forward, we’ve got a big weekend coming.”
 
It took 46:44 for a puck to find the back of the net, and it came off the stick of Michael Chaput, who capitalized on open space to walk in and beat Antoine Bibeau with a shot high to the blocker side after receiving a drop pass from Nick Merkley.
 
 
Chaput’s goal, his 14th of the season and his fourth with the Roadrunners, gave Tucson a 1-0 lead with 13:16 remaining in regulation.
 
“He’s a great player, it’s been great to have an older presence like that,” Bunting said of Chaput. “He’s been around the league for quite some time, playing with him is a lot of fun, I feel like we have some good chemistry.”
 
With under a minute left to play and with their goalie pulled for an extra attacker, the Barracuda tied the game 1-1 when a loose puck found its way into the net during a scrum in front of the Roadrunners’ net.
 
The Roadrunners were not content with extending to overtime, however.
 
“There wasn’t one guy negative on that bench when [San Jose] scored to tie the game with 50 seconds to go,” said Bunting. “We knew that we were going to come back with fire, we had the shots, we had 40 shots, so we knew that if it went into overtime we felt good about our game.”
 
With nine seconds left, Bunting got a stick on a cross-ice pass from Chaput as the two sped into San Jose territory on a two-on-one, deflecting a puck that bounced into the net to give the Roadrunners a 2-1 lead, and ultimately the win.
 
 
Adin Hill stopped 32 of the 33 shots he faced to earn his 13th win of the season.
 
The Roadrunners will continue their home stand Friday night when they host the Colorado Eagles at Tucson Arena, where the puck is scheduled to drop just after 7:05 PM.
 
Photo: Chris Hook