TEXAS at TUCSON (Friday and Saturday)
In an uncommon interdivisional match-up this season, the Tucson Roadrunners hosted the Texas Stars for Tucson’s first foray outside of the Pacific in 2021.
The Roadrunners started the game out on the right note, getting a Ryan McGregor goal at 6:19 of the first. Texas then responded by netting five straight goals between the first and third periods. In the third, a Kevin Roy goal for Tucson and 26 shots on goal were much too little too late for a comeback, as Texas won by a final score of 5-2.
Unlike Friday night, Texas struck first…and second…and third on Saturday. Two Riley Hancock goals for Tucson were once again a scoring effort coming too late from the Roadrunners. Stars forward Riley Damiani and his third goal of the season (and for Texas that night) stood as the game winner with a 4-2 final score as the Stars swept the two-game weekend series.
Oddly enough, both Texas netminders for Friday and Saturday, Tomas Sholl and Colton Point, respectively, posted identical stat lines for each night: 40 saves on 42 shots with two goals allowed.
Next up, the Stars will host Colorado for four straight games (March 12-13, 16-17) while the Roadrunners head to California to play Ontario (March 12) and San Diego (March 13) for their weekend set.
HENDERSON at COLORADO (Friday and Saturday)
Boasting the number one defense in the AHL (1.73 goals allowed per game as of March 7), the Henderson Silver Knights also carried an 8-1-0 record into Friday night against the Colorado Eagles.
Friday evening began with scoring from Silver Knights forward Dylan Sikura in the first period, followed by a shorthanded tally from Colorado forward Jayson Megna in the second. Henderson’s Gage Quinney then started off the third with a goal at 1:39 in the final frame, followed again by an Eagles goal by Megna at 10:32. In crunch time, Quinney added two more scores just 14 seconds apart (18:24 and 18:37) to give him a hat trick and the Silver Knights a 4-2 victory.
Megna couldn’t help Colorado the next night, as his presence was needed via recall by the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday. His first-line caliber talent was missed, as the only Eagles player to score in the second match was rookie defenseman Ian Scheid. Four Silver Knights put pucks in the back of the net including Sikura once again, who increased his goal-scoring streak to four straight games. A three-goal second period for Henderson gave them a comfortable lead and ultimately a 4-1 victory to push their overall record to 10-1-0.
Silver Knights netminder Logan Thompson earned two wins in the weekend series, now possessing the most wins in the AHL (six) along with a 1.72 goals against average and .946 save percentage.
Henderson and Colorado have one more game slated in Loveland on Monday evening at 7:05 p.m. MT. The Silver Knights then head to California to take on Ontario (March 13) and San Diego (March 14) while Colorado (as previously mentioned) head to Cedar Park to take on Texas in a four-game series.
SAN JOSE at SAN DIEGO (Friday and Saturday)
Between COVID-19 protocols and inclement weather, the San Jose Barracuda have had their fair share of game cancellations and rescheduling this year. Thankfully, the two games against San Diego went ahead as planned this past weekend.
The Gulls were dealt with four players recalled to Anaheim ahead of Friday’s match-up. Centerman Chase De Leo, defenseman Jamie Drysdale, right winger Vinni Lettieri, and goaltender Anthony Stolarz were all asked to join the Ducks’ taxi squad on Thursday, March 4. The resulting game outcome shouldn’t be a big surprise then, as only Andrew Agozzino scored for San Diego on Friday night. San Jose almost doubled the Gulls’ shots on goal (32-17) as four different skaters scored on five goals for the Barracuda. Bolstered by a three-goal first period, San Jose easily took the first game of the weekend, 5-1.
Game number two on Saturday saw a more back and forth affair, with both teams trading goals through the first and second periods. The Barracuda peppered Gulls goalie Olle Eriksson Ek with 41 shots on goal, while San Diego only managed 26 SOG on San Jose netminder Alexei Melnichuk. Nevertheless, goals from Hunter Drew & Benoit-Olivier Groulx for the Gulls and Maxim Letunov & Zach Gallant for the Barracuda led the game to be pushed into overtime. Just 1:12 into the extra period, Agozzino scored for the second night in a row to split the weekend for San Diego.
The Gulls will head to San Jose on Tuesday, March 9 and Bakersfield on Wednesday, March 10 for their next two games in as many days. The Barracuda will play Bakersfield on Friday, March 12 and Saturday, March 13 after their Tuesday game against San Diego.
ONTARIO vs. BAKERSFIELD (Saturday and Sunday)
The struggling Ontario Reign had only won one game in eleven tries this season heading into Bakersfield to face the Condors. Bakersfield was trending in the right direction after losing their first five games before winning the next three (including handing Henderson their only loss of the season on Saturday, February 20).
Five straight goals for the Condors through the first and second periods on Friday gave the Reign a tremendous hole to dig out of come period number three. After tallies from Samuel Fagemo, Cameron Gaunce, and Lias Andersson, Ontario fell short of a win by a score of 5-3. Bakersfield forward Cooper Marody recorded a hat trick during the Condors’ two-period goal explosion, bumping his goal total up to six for the season.
Game two on Saturday shifted to El Segundo for an Ontario “home” game. Bakersfield didn’t care about the change of venue, though, as the Condors once again put up a five-spot on the hapless Reign. However, instead of five straight goals, Ontario forward Boko Imama broke up the Condors lamp lighting at 5:25 of the second period. Marody would add two goals on the night for a five-goal weekend and eight total on the year (player of the week honors incoming, no doubt).
Condors rookie netminder Stuart Skinner moved to 4-2-0 with a 1.84 GAA and .927 SV% after his two victories this weekend. Reign goaltenders Troy Grosenick (31 saves on 36 shots) and J-F Berube (28 saves on 33 shots) each allowed five goals on Friday and Saturday, respectively.
As aforementioned, Bakersfield will host San Diego this upcoming Wednesday and San Jose on Friday & Saturday. Ontario hosts Tucson on Friday and Henderson on Saturday.