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 Tucson Roadrunners

Roadrunners Win 5th-Straight; Take Series from Coachella Valley

April 18, 2024 - American Hockey League (AHL)
Tucson Roadrunners News Release

TUCSON, AZ - The Tucson Roadrunners took care of business with a grudge matched 3-2 victory over the Coachella Valley Firebirds: winning the season series 4-3-0-1 against the top team in the Western Conference; improving to 42-23-3-2.

It was a battle for Tucson; who is fighting for second place in the Pacific Division with the Ontario Reign. Hunter Drew scored two of Tucson's three goals, while goaltender Dylan Wells made 36 saves on 38 shots; marking the fifth time this season Wells has stopped 35 shots or more in a game.

The Roadrunners have now reached win number 42; the most in a single season for the team since the 2017-18 season.

Goaltender Dylan Wells was tested early with some point-blank Firebird chances; stopping the first three shots from Coachella Valley until the Roadrunners registered their first shot at the 14:40 mark. Hunter Drew gave Tucson the 1-0 lead at 6:28: with a one-timer between the dots for his ninth goal of the season. Defensemen Max Szuber had the setup from left circle after a rush up the ice for the Roadrunners. Forward Custis Douglas was later added as an assist with the puck hitting his skate before making it to Drew. The Firebirds responded quickly at 7:49 from Ryan Winterton for his 22nd of the season. Wells overall stopped 16 of 17 in the first period to keep it 1-1. The 16 saves were two off from Matthew Villalta's season high save count in a period at 18; which came in the third period on October 14 versus the Texas Stars and the third period on November 12 versus the Firebirds.

For the second period, Tucson scored the only goal from Hunter Drew for his second goal of the game at 15:51; crashing into the net after Victor Soderstrom shot low on Firebirds goalie Chris Driedger to cause a juicy rebound for Drew. It was Drew's 10th goal of the season and his seventh point (5 goals, 2 assists) in his last seven games. Wells made 11-straight saves in the period.

In the final frame at 10:33, Reece Vitelli scored Tucson's third goal of the game for his first of the season; scoring off a rebound from Montana Onyebuchi's blast from the blue line. Cameron Hebig tipped the Onyebuchi shot to create the scoring chance for Vitelli. It was Hebig's seventh point (2 goals, 5 assists) in April; which leads the team with two games remaining in the month. Coachella Valley scored late to make it a 3-2 game from Connor Carrick for his ninth of the season. However, the Firebirds would run out of time; securing the season series victory for Tucson against Coachella Valley ahead of their final two games of the season back at the TCC.

"It's a great feeling; we're in a tight race here trying to lock up second place in the Division; so we knew what we had to do tonight. They're a good team at home; I thought we brought a good and honest effort," said Goaltender Dylan Wells on the season series win against Coachella Valley to close out the road schedule.

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