The Tucson Roadrunners are rolling.
The Roadrunners overcame penalties to defeat Bakersfield 4-1 Saturday night to move to 8-1-2-0.
The record is the best in the American Hockey League and ties Tucson’s start through 11 games last season.
That kind of production should get the club noticed by its NHL affiliate.
“I thought our guys did good,” Roadrunners head coach Mike Van Ryn said. “I thought we played a north-mentality game. For the most part I thought every guy was going pretty good tonight.”
Tucson’s first scoring opportunity came on a 5-3 power play midway through the first period.
The Roadrunners hovered around the attacking zone, but Condors goalkeeper Eddie Pasquale made a series of saves to keep Tucson from finding the back of the net.
Bakersfield soon got back to full strength, then capitalized on their own power play opportunity. Joey LaLeggia scored on a deflection with 7:30 to go in the period.
A power-play goal by Tucson’s Lawson Crouse tied the score with a little under two minutes remaining in the first period.
“It took a little bit to get it going,” Van Ryn said. “It was a different with all the penalties. It’s hard. You just try to keep as many guys as you can in the game.”
Tucson grabbed a 2-1 lead 3:40 into the second period when Lane Pederson scored on an assist from Kyle Capobianco.
Crouse put the Roadrunners ahead 3-1 with 4:26 to go in the second period on an assist from Kyle Wood.
Crouse’s two scores Saturday were his first goals of the season.
“Obviously we did a good job getting pucks to the net,” Crouse said. “We all know in that room that when a team’s success comes, individual (success) will follow. It’s a team-first mentality.
For the second night in a row, the Roadrunners dominated Bakersfield in second period. Tucson took 15; the Condors attempted two.
The third period, which had been the Roadrunners’ strongest period entering the weekend, went Tucson’s way as well.
After controlling the puck for practically the entire period, Tucson at last found the net when Nick Merkley scored with 18 seconds to go in the game.
Hunter Miska started at goalie for the Roadrunners. The rookie saved 15 of 16 shots.
The Roadrunners went 5-0-1 in their six-game homestand, collecting 11 out of a possible 12 points. They next play rival San Diego on the road next weekend.
“All the guys are putting in work,” Van Ryn said. “It’s a tight group and they all want to play with each other. They’re their biggest fans in there.”