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Tucson Roadrunners sneak by Chicago Wolves in overtime thriller

Dakota Mermis scored late in overtime to give the Roadrunners their third straight win

Photo courtesy Tucson Roadrunners

The Tucson Roadrunners won their third straight game Friday night, ousting the Chicago Wolves 2-1 in sudden death overtime.

The win puts Tucson at 23-12-2-1 on the season, preserving their lead in the Pacific Division.

The win didn’t necessarily come easy for the Roadrunners, however. The game was scoreless after two periods, and the shot attempts remained low with Tucson edging the Wolves in that category 17-10 at the intermission.

“The first part of the game we were really managing the puck well,” Roadrunners assistant coach Steve Potvin said. “We were putting some pressure on them with our forecheck, and that kind of got a way from us.”

Chicago would be the first to strike, with Brandon Pirri slipping the puck past goaltender Hunter Miska nearly five minutes into the third period. Meanwhile, Chicago continued their defensive pressure on the Roadrunners, holding them nine shots on goal in the third frame.

Despite the pressure, Roadrunners forward Lawson Crouse said he believed Tucson was able to keep their composure throughout the full 60-minute game.

“It was very easy for us to get frustrated if we let it,” he said. “But with our composure and our leadership on our team, we were doing a lot of talking between periods. We knew that with our team and the character that we have, just keep going, and pushing forward.”

And Crouse was right. With less than four minutes remaining in the third period, he found a set pass from teammates Mario Kempe and Dylan Strome to get the puck past Chicago’s goaltender, Kasimir Kaskisuo, to tie the game and eventually force an overtime period.

“It was actually a really nice play.” Crouse said. “It kicked out to [Strome] down to Kempe, and he made a nice pace over to me, and I just had to put it in. It just shows that when you battle right to the end good things happen.”

Tucson tried to carry that momentum into overtime, but Crouse was called for a minor penalty, giving Chicago the 4-on-3 advantage for a large chunk of the overtime period.

Tucson was able to kill the penalty and eventually Dakota Mermis found the back of the net with just 6.7 seconds remaining, giving Tucson their third straight overtime victory of the week.

“I think we just got a really resilient crew,” Mermis said. “We work on the 3-on-3 this week on practice, it’s such a big part of the game.”

Crouse and Mermis weren’t the only ones who had a big game Friday. Goaltender Hunter Miska improved his overtime record to 5-0 this season, saving 21 of 22 shots.

Tucson will return to action Saturday night, hosting Chicago once more before heading into the AHL All-Star break.