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Roadrunner roundup: Special teams fuels Tucson’s successful homestand

Pretty good start to the franchise’s existence in the Old Pueblo

Jason Bartel

If you’re looking to capture the attention of a community that you’ve put a new franchise in, winning is probably the best way to do that.

That’s exactly what the Tucson Roadrunners have done.

The Arizona Coyotes’ AHL affiliate went 4-0-1 on its first five-game homestand, and currently sits atop the Pacific Division.

“The way the games have been, there’s a lot to cheer about,” head coach Mark Lamb said after Saturday’s 5-4 overtime win over the Ontario Reign. “It’s been pretty exciting, it’s been up and down, and it’s been some pretty wild hockey.”

“It’s starting to feel like home for us. We’re creating a home atmosphere.”

A huge reason for this success has been the special teams play. The Roadrunners are second in the league in both power play percentage (34.2%) and penalty kill percentage (91.7%). They also scored two shorthanded goals.

“We’ve got great chemistry on it,” coach Lamb explained. “They’re sticking to the plan, we have a couple plays, and I could name our entire first power play, they see things. (Chris) Mueller’s been around a long time, and he’s the quarterback, and they can throw a lot of different things at these guys, and they adapt and make plays. I don’t see that power play going away.”

“Our very first game, we found it,” Lamb added about that chemistry. “We haven’t had to change it because it just keeps scoring, and I’m not stupid enough to change something that keeps working.”

“The breakouts are a work in progress,” continued defenseman Anthony DeAngelo. “Once we’re in the zone, we’re doing a nice job moving pucks around, our chemistry’s good right now, and we’re finding a way to finish.”

“When you have a special teams that’s lazy and takes it for granted, that’s when it doesn’t work,” left wing Brendan Perlini tacked on. “So all the guys, myself included, I’m really forcing it to get out on the power play. I’m really grateful for the opportunity, and I’m trying to make the most of it as well as the other guys.”

DeAngelo scored the game-winning goal in a 3-on-3 overtime setting on Saturday, which can kind of be attributed to the special teams’ success as well.

“Usually you’re out there with similar guys,” DeAngelo explained of the similarity. “You gotta hold the puck, and the more you hold the puck in overtime, you’re gonna come out with wins.”

TCC still coming into its own

From Wednesday night through Saturday night, the TCC held six ice hockey games (three Roadrunner and three U of A games). This unprecedented workload on the ice and the arena was apparent to the Roadrunner players come Saturday night.

“It was decent,” Perlini explained of the ice on Saturday. “I’m not gonna say it was outstanding, because it wasn’t come the end of tonight. But each week it seems to be getting a bit better. At the start it wasn’t great, and like I said it’s getting a bit better.”

“I thought it was fine today,” DeAngelo added. “There were a couple times when you get late in the period and it starts to get a little bobbly, but it was fine.”

Quick meeps

  • Tyler Gaudet and Anthony DeAngelo were called up by the Coyotes on Monday
  • The team wore special camo jerseys for Military Appreciation Night on Saturday. Here’s a few photos from that game
  • The team is off until Friday when they play at the Bakersfield Condors. The Roadrunners’ next home game is Friday, November 18th vs. the Manitoba Moose. That starts a six-game homestand