Tucson Roadrunners coach Mike Van Ryn has spent much of the early season laying down his aggressive on-ice philosophy.
Van Ryn demands that his team stay on top of the puck and control the pace of play.
The Roadrunners executed their coach’s gameplan to near perfection on Friday night, topping Bakersfield 6-3 at Tucson Arena.
“I thought we brought it for a full 60 tonight,” Roadrunners winger Nick Merkley said. “I though all our lines played well. It was nice to get that win.”
The win moves Tucson to 7-1-2, which is the best record in the American Hockey League.
As basketball-crazed Tucson celebrated the return of the Arizona Wildcats, the Roadrunners opened the night with the hockey equivalent of a pair of offensive put backs.
The Roadrunners’ first got on the board by way of a rebound shot from Merkley with 6:08 to go in the first period.
Just over two minutes later, Dylan Strome netted a goal off a missed attempt.
Bakersfield answered near the end of the first period with a power play goal.
The Roadrunners regained a two-goal lead when Emerson Etem scored 2:15 into the second period. Bakersfield answered right back to close the lead to 3-2.
That would be the closest Bakersfield came to making it a game. The Roadrunners went on to outshoot the Condors 22-3 in the second period.
Tucson’s fourth goal was set up by a steal from Mike Sislo, who advanced the puck to Strome, who then assisted Andrew Campbell for a score. That gave Tucson a 4-2 advantage with 13 minutes to go in the second period.
Tucson took a 5-2 lead on Strome’s second goal, which came just over midway through the second period.
Strome’s four points were a career high.
“Tonight I think we had 40 something shots so pucks are bound to go in when you get that many chances,” Strome said.
The Roadrunners weren’t done in the second period, as Michael Bunting netted a late power play goal to give Tucson a four-score lead.
After two periods, the Roadrunners had doubled up Bakersfield in shots at 32-16.
Bakersfield closed the deficit to 6-3 on an early third period goal.
Tucson had a number of close looks in the game’s final period but could not cash in. Friday marked the Roadrunners’ first game all season that the team was outscored in the third period.
Adin Hill made the start at goalkeeper, saving 23 of 26 shots.
The Roadrunners will try to cap a perfect weekend on Saturday, when they host Bakersfield in the second game of their series.