The Tucson Roadrunners began their second homestand of the season where the last one ended, knuckling each other on the ice.
Behind a trio of third period goals, the Roadrunners topped the Manitoba Moose 5-2 Friday night at Tucson Arena. The win moves the Roadrunners to 8-1-0-2 this season, which is the best record in the American Hockey League’s Pacific Division.
”We couldn’t really have gotten off to a better start, to be honest,” Roadrunners winger Brendan Perlini said. “The guys are all motivated, and they want to win.”
Tucson’s three-goal margin was a break from the close one-goal victories that dominated their first homestand.
The Roadrunners and Moose held each other scoreless in the first period before a slugfest of the physical kind broke out early in the second period.
In a span of 20 seconds, three fights broke out on separate parts of the ice, sending three Roadrunners and two Moose to the penalty box.
”There’s nothing behind it,” Roadrunners goalie Adin Hill said. “It’s just the nature of the game. Guys get a little physical and when one guy doesn’t like something the other guys step up.”
A string of scuffles continued through the closing minutes of the game.
While Tucson’s penalty minutes were on par with Manitoba’s, it was the Roadrunners who capitalized most on power plays.
Perlini scored Tucson’s first goal of the night with 11:24 to go in the second period, when a rebound off the back glass fell into the lap of Craig Cunningham, who dished the assist to Perlini.
The Moose responded about three minutes later in the period on a goal by Darren Kramer.
A late second period goal by Tucson’s Cunningham gave the Roadrunners a 2-1 lead entering the third period. However, five minutes into the third period, Manitoba’s Jimmy Lodge tied the score.
The Roadrunners would take the lead for good on Perlini’s second goal of the night, this one with 13:04 to go. A pair of late goals by Brandon Burlon and Michael Bunting sealed the win.
Tucson and Manitoba face off again Saturday at 7:05 pm.
”The crowd was awesome tonight,” Perlini said. “It was really loud and guys were feeding off of that so hopefully it can be like that again tomorrow tonight.”