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 Tucson Roadrunners

Roadrunners Clinch Playoff Home Ice with 2-1 Win

April 14, 2024 - American Hockey League (AHL)
Tucson Roadrunners News Release

Tucson Roadrunners' Goalie Matthew Villalta in action
Tucson Roadrunners' Goalie Matthew Villalta in action
(Tucson Roadrunners, Credit: Kate Dibildox)

TUCSON, AZ - Tell your friend to tell all of their friends that The Whiteout is coming to Tucson as the Roadrunners defeated the Eagles 2-1 on Saturday to improve to 41-23-3-2 on the year and clinch a home ice advantage for the first round of the playoffs from the Tucson Arena.

It was a playoff atmosphere at the Tucson Arena on Saturday evening as the Tucson Roadrunners and Colorado Eagles battled it out with a chance for the Roadrunners to collect two points and clinch home ice in the first round of the playoffs. The Roadrunners would do exactly that.

Period one was a battle from start to finish, with both sides recording eight shots on goal and each side surrendering a power-play opportunity to the other. Neither side would score in the frame and the physicalness of playoff hockey was visible.

It would take 31:44 until the 0-0 tie would be broken by the Roadrunners. The first goal would come on the power-play from Nathan Smith. Smith, who found himself in great position in front of the net, would catch the deflection of an Aku Raty one-timer and bury the puck. Aku Raty and John Leonard assisted Smith and Tucson had its first lead of the contest. Colorado would answer back with an even strength goal in the final minute and a half of the second period. With the game knotted up a one a piece it was setup for a great final frame.

The first 14 minutes of the period would be back-and-forth with chances for both sides. Matthew Villalta was fantastic the entire evening but more some especially big saves in the final twenty minutes. 14:05 into the third it would be a Travis Barron blast off the post and into the stick of Ben McCartney that would be the difference in the game. McCartney would backhand the puck into the back of the net and light the lamp for Tucson.

Colorado would pull their goalie late, but Tucson would hold on and secure the two points. Those two points would lock in the Whiteout, an Arizona hockey tradition. Round one of the playoffs runs through Tucson.

"They're a good team that battles hard just like we do and it feels good to get two points. We've been working hard all year and hopefully the fans are packing the place for us (in the playoffs)," said Forward Nathan Smith following Tucson's 2-1 win on Saturday evening.

Images from this story

Tucson Roadrunners' Goalie Matthew Villalta in action
Tucson Roadrunners' Goalie Matthew Villalta in action

(Kate Dibildox)

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