The Tucson Roadrunners started Saturday's game with their deepest roster of the season. The team was unable, however, to capitalize while at full strength.
The Ontario Reign took Tucson down 6-3 on Saturday, using a three-goal second period to put the home team away at Tucson Arena.
Roadrunners coach Mike Van Ryn credited Ontario for coming out with a level of energy that his team couldn’t match.
“We talked about before the game that they were going to come out,” Van Ryn said. “They always play hard. We struggled to find chemistry tonight, and they were the better team.”
The Roadrunners added Kyle Capobianco and Lawson Crouse to the roster Saturday after both were sent down from the Coyotes. The addition helps the club on paper, Van Ryn said, though Tucson must match their skill with the right amount of effort.
“We have a good roster but you still have to play with that desperation, and I didn’t think that we did that,” Van Ryn said. “We looked like somebody was going to do the job for us rather than us."
Ontario got on the board early, scoring five minutes into the first period.
Dylan Strome tied the score four minutes later, connecting on a power-play goal with an assist by Nick Merkley.
The Reign regained the lead just 10 seconds into the second period on a score by Paul LaDue. Eight minutes into the period, Ontario extended the lead to 3-1 on a re-direct shot by Brett Sutter.
Tucson answered right back when Tyler Gaudet netted a deflection.
However, Ontario would regain a two-goal lead on a score 11 minutes into the period.
The Reign cushioned their lead with a fifth goal midway through the third period.
Merkley cut into the deficit when he netted a power play goal with 6:20 remaining.
Ontario made the score 6-3 on an empty-netter with 24 seconds to go.
Tucson’s home struggles continued with the loss, a point that Van Ryn touched on after the game.
“Our home ice presence has to get better,” Van Ryn said. “I’m real disappointed with how we’ve played lately. I thought our fans did their part, so we’ve got to do ours.”
Merkley and Strome, Tucson’s two All-Star selections, entered the game as the AHL’s top rookie point earners and both earned a pair more points Saturday.
Crouse, who was sent down to Tucson on Friday, joined Merkley and Strome on the front line.
The Roadrunners now enter one of the tougher stretches of their schedule. Eleven of their next 15 games are on the road. Tucson travels to California this week to face Stockton, Ontario, and San Diego.