Seventeen seconds into the first period of Saturday’s loss to San Diego, Tucson Roadrunners center Laurent Dauphin was slammed hard into the glass. Dauphin took a couple of minutes to get up before teammates aided him off the ice.
It was that kind of night for the Roadrunners, who fell 4-1 in Saturday’s final regular season home game and were swept in the weekend series by the Gulls. Once a lock to make the AHL playoffs, Tucson (26-30-7-0) is on the outside looking in. The team finishes its home schedule with a 17-14-3-0 record.
San Diego opened up the scoring after four minutes with a goal from Nic Kerdiles off an assist from Austin Ortega. The Roadrunners’ Jaime McBain, who ranks second in the AHL with 23 power-play assists, was sent to the penalty box for tripping just before the first period ended.
The Gulls (40-17-3-2) struck early in the second period when Ondrej Kase scored after two minutes off an assist from Jeff Schultz and Mitch Hults.
The Tucson Arena crowd roared when the Roadrunners got on the board just a minute after with a goal from rookie Conor Garland assisted by David Musil.
Roadrunners coach Mark Lamb was impressed with the fans’ energy, not only Saturday but all season. The team moved from Tucson last summer from Springfield, Massachusetts. Team officials worked frantically to get the arena — and the franchise — ready to play games.
“The fans that are here are exceptional,” said Lamb. “I wish we could have given them more to cheer about, but they are all in.”
San Diego’s Spencer Abbott made it 3-1 when he scored off a Sam Carrick and Andrew Welinski assist. Both teams were constantly changing possessions in the third period, until about 11 minutes when a fight occurred. Both teams gathered on the left side of the ice and after scuffling, San Diego’s Nic Kerdiles and Sam Carrick were sent to the penalty box while Roadrunners’ Eric Selleck was ejected.
Shortly after the scuffle, Gulls’ Spencer Abbott scored again off a Jaycob Megna assist from the right side. Minutes later he was sent to the penalty box for slashing.
Lamb believes the Roadrunners are going to be successful in Tucson, even though Saturday ended in a loss.
“When you look at the young guys this organization has put in place, there is a lot of potential,” said Lamb. “It’s going to be a very great spot to play hockey.”