Reinforced Roadrunners Rebound, Secure a 4-1 Win over Texas
The Roadrunners, with a couple of key names back in their lineup, bounced back in a big way Saturday night to top the Texas Stars by a 4-1 count at the H-E-B Center at Cedar Park.
Coming off Friday's performance, where they were held without a goal for just the second time all season, the Roadrunners struck early and added evenly, finding the back of the net in all three periods of play, notably twice in the late stages of regulation.
Maybe more important than anything was Tucson's ability to keep Texas' second-ranked power play off the score sheet, killing off all four of its minor infractions taken during the evening.
"The last couple of games we've been a little inconsistent, but tonight at times I thought we were playing our best hockey all year," said Tyler Steenbergen, who opened the Roadrunners' scoring. "It was a great win for us, and heading into San Diego, it gives us a lot of momentum."
Just under five minutes in, Steenbergen, who's been a fixture in opponents' slots of late, jockeyed for position in front of Texas' net and redirected a Dakota Mermis shot past Philippe Desrosiers, scoring his eighth goal of the season to give the Roadrunners a 1-0 lead.
The Stars would respond a little more than a minute later to tie the game 1-1 with 14:00 left to play in the opening frame.
The Roadrunners would shut down Texas' second-ranked power play in the waning moments of the first, setting the tone for their staunch defensive zone play that lasted throughout the night.
Neither team found the back of the net for the majority of the second period until Michael Bunting, attracting defenders with his front-net positioning, dished off to an open David Ullstrom, who deposited from below the right circle.
Ullstrom's goal, scored with 37 seconds left in the middle frame, gave the Roadrunners a 2-1 lead heading into the third.
Despite heavy pressure put on by Texas during the first half of the third period, the Roadrunners broke the game open, sealing their win, with a pair of tallies in a 3:31 span.
Ullstrom connected for his second of the night when he opened up for a Brayden Burke feed as he was left alone in front of Texas' net, beating Desrosiers with a move to his backhand.
His marker gave the Roadrunners a 3-1 lead with 5:52 to play.
With under three minutes remaining, Jordan Gross connected on a wrist shot from about 30 feet out, scoring his fifth goal of the campaign to all but ice the game.
Adin Hill, with an incredibly strong effort, stopped 32 of the 33 shots he faced to earn his eighth win the season.
"You need good goaltending in this league and he brings it every night," Nick Merkley said of Hill. "It's nice to have that cushion back there, to be able to have a trustworthy goalie behind us."
Lane Pederson and Merkley finished the night with two assists each.
"I think with that depth [we got back] it helps a lot," Merkley added of the team's healthier roster. "Every guy has been working hard, and you see guys like Kevin Ekman-Larsson who are playing well, so it's nice to see that, that's how we'll win games."
The Roadrunners will head to Southern California to put the finishing touches on their six-game road trip, scheduled to take on the San Diego Gulls on Wednesday night at Pechanga Arena San Diego, where the puck is scheduled to drop just after 8:00 PM MST.
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