The Tucson Roadrunners took round one of their season-long, 12-round bout with the Colorado Eagles Tuesday night. Yet, by the time the bell finally sounded, it was the guy with a glaring gap in his front teeth who’d again pack Tucson’s biggest punch.
Two goals from Hudson Fasching, Tucson’s hottest offensive force of late, paced the Roadrunners (16-5-0-0) to a 6-3 victory in the first of a dozen times they’ll square up with the Eagles (10-9-1-0) during the 2019-20 season.
Fasching started the 2019-20 season without a goal or point in his first 10 games. In 11 outings since, he’s got 14 points. Tucson has nine wins over that span, and also hasn’t lost at home since Oct. 30th.
“I think it just takes time, and it’s a game of streaks,” said Fasching, whose seven goals in his last eight games came directly on the heels of losing a tooth during the Roadrunners’ morning practice session Nov. 11. “I started out the year and didn’t have much the first 8-to-12 games. Sometimes it just comes in waves.”
Tucson coach Jay Varady said Fasching "just brings a steady presence every game. And I think with that consistency we’re seeing him getting rewarded.”
While Fasching juked and jabbed his way to the net, it was rookie goaltender Ivan Prosvetov who stayed on his feet, so to speak, while receiving proverbial blow after Colorado blow.
The Eagles’ 49 shots on goal were the most Tucson has seen this season by a decent margin, but Prosvetov turned away 46 of them. That includes all 21 he saw in the third period.
“I thought he was outstanding tonight,” Varady said of the rookie netminder, now 5-1 in his first six career American Hockey League starts. “He made great saves. … He was a big part of our penalty-killing unit. I thought that group as a whole did a fantastic job tonight.”
Tucson has traditionally been the team to outshoot its opponents this season. Fasching said despite that being flipped on end in this one, it’s the quality of opportunities that made the difference Tuesday.
“Ideally we wouldn’t like, obviously, 49 shots (against),” Fasching said. “If we’re keeping their shots to the outside, and we’re giving ourselves 30 high-quality shots versus 50 low-quality shots, I’d take those numbers any day.
“When you have a good goalie and he’s playing well, and he’s stopping all the low quality shots,” Fasching added, “then I’m not really concerned about them having high-volume shooting.”
Tucson led 2-0 after the first period, but a truly back-and-forth middle frame saw the Eagles down by just a goal, 4-3, entering the third.
Despite the see-saw in the second, Fasching and Varady agreed that the Roadrunners’ continuous ability to be resilient deserves credit for pulling away in the final period. In addition to goals from
“We’re getting better, and adapting to getting scored on and bouncing back and understanding the mindset we have to have to be successful,” Fasching said. “Obviously, as the season goes on you hope you learn, and I think that’s evidence that we are learning.”
The Roadrunners finished with two goals in each of the three periods. Brayden Burke opened up the scoring with his eighth goal of the year for Tucson, while Fasching scored in the first and third period. Cam Dineen and Lane Pederson scored in the second — Pederson’s goal was his team-high 13th of the year, good for fifth overall across the AHL — while Kyle Capobianco added an empty-netter late in the third. Michael Bunting carded a pair of assists for Tucson as well.
For Colorado, A.J. Greer, Anton Lindholm and Erik Condra scored, with goaltender Adam Werner stopping 26 of 31 shots.
The same two teams tap gloves Wednesday — again at 7:05 p.m. at Tucson Arena.