(CNS) – Defenseman Ryker Evans scored with four minutes, 41 seconds to play to complete the Coachella Valley Firebirds’ comeback from a two-goal deficit for a 4-3 victory over the Tucson Roadrunners Wednesday evening in Tucson, Arizona.
The Firebirds’ comeback began 13 seconds into the third period when Carsen Twarynski put a shot between Tucson goaltender Jon Gillies’ legs for his fourth goal of the season. Alexander True and Evans were credited with the assists.
The Firebirds (13-5-3-0) tied the score 3-3 6:03 into the period when defenseman Jimmy Schuldt skated behind the Roadrunners’ net and dumped the puck in front of the net where center Luke Henman pushed it in for his first point in his 16 games with the Seattle Kraken’s American Hockey League affiliate.
On the game-winning goal, Evans took a pass from Cameron Hughes and put a shot from the left faceoff circle past Gillies for his second goal of the season and first since Oct. 23. Jesper Froden was credited with the other assist.
Tucson coach Steve Potvin pulled Gillies for a sixth attacker for the first time with 58 seconds to play, but he returned to his net 14 seconds later with the Roadrunners unable to take a shot.
Gillies was pulled for a second time with 40 seconds remaining, but Tucson was again unable to get a shot off, including when it had six skaters to the Firebirds’ four for the final nine seconds after Brogan Rafferty was called for a delay of game penalty.
Firebirds goaltender Christopher Gibson (3-2-2) made 22 saves, including stopping 15 of the Roadrunners’ final 16 shots, before a crowd announced at 2,069 at the Tucson Convention Center Arena.
The Firebirds outshot Tucson, 29-25, including a 14-10 advantage in the first period. Both teams took eight shots in the second period and seven in the third.
After allowing a goal on the Roadrunners’ first power play, the Firebirds killed each of their other four, including three in the third period.
The Firebirds got a goal from Kole Lind on their first power play and were held scoreless on their final four.
Tucson (11-8-4-0) opened the scoring 2:19 into the game as Travis Barron put in a rebound of Ryan McGregor’s shot for his fifth goal of the season.
The Firebirds tied the score at 7:55 of the first period when Lind put a shot from the left faceoff circle into the net for his team-leading 11th goal of the season.
The Roadrunners regained the lead McGregor put a slap shot from the right faceoff circle past Gibson for his second goal of the season with 1:39 left in the first period, six seconds before Max McCormick’s high-sticking penalty was to expire.
Tucson, the Arizona Coyotes’ AHL affiliate, scored the second period’s lone goal when Ben McCartney steered in a pass from Jean-Sebastien Dea for his fifth goal of the season.
McCartney also scored in the Roadrunners’ 7-2 victory over the Firebirds Tuesday in Tucson.
Gillies (4-4-2) made 25 saves.
Firebirds defenseman Peetro Seppala and Tucson forward Michael Carcone drew five-minute major penalties for their fight with 54 seconds left in the second period. Seppala also received a slashing penalty and Carcone a roughing penalty.
The fight was Seppala’s first of the season — he had 10 penalty minutes in 19 games before picking up nine Wednesday — and Carcone’s second.
Roadrunners defenseman Vladislav Kolyachonok received a game misconduct penalty for physical abuse of officials at 15:37 of the first period.
“I thought we did some good stuff and started off pretty well,” McGregor said. “It was a bit of a weird game. (There were) a lot of power plays and penalty kills. We played pretty well five-on-five for the most part, too.”
The Firebirds will resume play Friday at San Diego, then play their first game at Acrisure Arena in Palm Desert Sunday against Tucson.
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