Tucson Roadrunners coach Mike Van Ryn is not fond of days off, but he made a deal with his team before Wednesday’s game against San Diego.
Beat the Gulls, Van Ryn said, and the Roadrunners could have Thanksgiving Day off.
The team responded by pulling off their best win of the season, a 5-0 thumping of its AHL Pacific Division rival. Tucson will face the Stockton Heat on Friday and Saturday at Tucson Arena. Both games start at 7:05 p.m.
“I thought our guys executed the game plan well and they tried to do it for 60 minutes and it led to a decent victory,” Van Ryn said.
Tucson needed a bounce-back win like the one they earned Wednesday. The team fell in back-to-back games in San Diego a week ago.
Tucson was once again led by the play of Dylan Strome, who scored two goals and dished out another two assists. Wednesday was his sixth multi-point game of the season.
The 20-year old forward is carving up the AHL. In 13 games, he is second in the league in scoring with 22 points despite playing six fewer games than the AHL’s leading scorer, Hershey’s Chris Borque.
“I feel great and I’m having a lot of fun,” Strome said. “It’s obviously fun to get a chance to contribute and when the team is winning everyone is happy.”
The Roadrunners also received a stellar outing from goalie Adin Hill, who recorded a 29-save shutout.
Hill was part of an outstanding defensive juncture in the second period when the Roadrunners found themselves facing a 5-3 power-play disadvantage for almost a full two minutes.
San Diego inundated the attacking zone, getting off shots, but never broke through.
The Tucson Arena crowd gave the Roadrunners a roaring standing ovation as the team regrouped.
“It was a critical point of the game and Hill made some huge saves,” Strome said.
Mike Sislo, Kyle Wood, and Nick Merkley added to the scoring column for the Roadrunners on Wednesday.
Tucson has another challenge in store this weekend. Stockton sits right below first-place Tucson in the Pacific Division standings.
The teams are tied in points, but the Roadrunners have played two fewer games.
The Roadrunners will be without goaltender Marek Langhamer. He was called up to the Arizona Coyotes after Arizona’s Annti Raanta went down with an upper-body injury Wednesday night.
Tucson will rely on Hill and Hunter Miska to guard the net against the Heat.