Roadrunners zero San Diego, claim Pacific Division title
By: Alexander Kinkopf
April 11, 2018 10:04 PM
In their regular season road finale, the Roadrunners topped the San Diego Gulls by a 4-0 count at the Valley View Casino Center.
History, though, was made before the final horn.
With 1:53 left to play in regulation, the Pacific Division title was officially awarded to the Roadrunners as the Ontario Reign’s 6-3 loss to the Stockton Heat went official. That ensured home ice for Tucson through the first two rounds of the Calder Cup playoffs.
Once the Roadrunners’ victory was set in stone shortly thereafter, the team's magic number to clinch the Western Conference regular season championship was whittled down to 1.
Adin Hill stopped a season-high 36 shots fired his way in the win, recording his second-straight shutout and his fifth of the season, which is the second highest total among AHL goaltenders. He has not allowed a goal in his last 148:30 minutes of action.
Following a scoreless first, Conor Garland stepped into his eighth goal of the season, giving the Roadrunners a 1-0 lead with just under 12 minutes to play in the second period when he corralled a ricochet Trevor Murphy pass and beat San Diego’s Reto Berra from the slot.
Late in the second, Lawson Crouse gave the Roadrunners a 2-0 lead when he beat Berra with a shot low to the far-side after receiving a pass from Dylan Strome from just inside the blue-line.
Crouse’s goal, his 13th of the season, extended his point streak to six games.
With just under 10 minutes to play in regulation, Trevor Murphy waited out a San Diego shot-block attempt and fired a wrist-shot home from the point to up the Roadrunners’ lead to 3-0.
Murphy’s goal, his 10th of the season and his second in a Roadrunners uniform, served as the 100th point of his professional career.
Lawson Crouse added an empty-net goal with 3:57 to play to give the Roadrunners a 4-0 lead, the night’s eventual final score.
Crouse finished the night with three points, registering his second three-point performance of the season, both of which have come against the Gulls.
The Roadrunners finished the road portion of their regular season schedule with a 24-7-2-1 mark in opposing buildings.
With the win, Tucson has taken an 11-10 lead in the battle for the I-8 Border Trophy.
The team will begin a two-game home stand Friday night at Tucson Arena against this same San Diego club, where the puck is scheduled to drop just after 7:05 PM.
Photos courtesy: San Diego Gulls