FIVE FIRST PERIOD GOALS CARRY ARIZONA TO 6-4 WIN
Sundogs Climb to .500, Remain Three Points Back of Division Lead
PRESCOTT VALLEY, Ariz. – The Arizona Sundogs and rival New Mexico Scorpions battled for the third-straight game and fourth time in seven contests on Wednesday night at Tim’s Toyota Center in Prescott Valley. Despite trailing 1-0 early, Arizona tallied a season-high five first period goals en route to the 6-4 win. The line of Cory Stillman, Adam Perry and Joel Irving continued to control the ice, combining for eight points on the night. With the win, Arizona improves to 8-8-1 and reaches the .500 mark for the first time this season.
The game’s first fight would occur just 14 seconds into the contest Wednesday night with tempers spilling over from last weekend’s games and a near pregame warm up altercation, evident of the ongoing rivalry between the two clubs. Sundogs forward Andre Selander and Scorpions defenseman Tyler Fuller came together to exchange blows in a lengthy fight in the New Mexico zone to open the contest. The visiting Scorpions struck first to open an early 1-0 lead on Craig Macdonald’s 12th of the year but Arizona responded with a season-high five goals in a single period to take a 5-1 lead into the first intermission. Defenseman Kyle Hood opened scoring for Arizona with his first of the year from Joel Irving and Adam Perry 49 seconds after the Macdonald tally. The Sundogs took their first lead of the game just shy of the period’s halfway mark as defenseman Matt Suderman sent a shot from the point through traffic for his first of the season. Rookie forward Peter Cartwright and Selander collected assists on the go ahead goal. Perry registered his second point of the game less than a minute later with his fifth goal in four games since being assigned to the Sundogs by triple-A affiliate the San Antonio Rampage. Irving assisted on the play along with linemate Cory Stillman for his second point of the night. With 5:50 to play in the opening frame, Mark Kolanos pushed his club’s lead to three goals with their first of two power play markers in just over a two-minute span. Gascon closed out scoring in the period with the second power play tally at the 16:28 mark. Tyler Liebel recorded helpers on both man advantage goals. Despite the 5-1 score, shots were close with the Sundogs holding a 16-12 advantage through the first 20 minutes.
Arizona picked up where it left off in the first frame to open a five-goal cushion 4:31 into the middle period as Stillman notched his second point and his club’s third goal with the man advantage. Unpressured on the far post, Stillman knocked the loose puck past Scorpions backup goaltender Andrew Martin, who replaced starting netminder Jason Wolfe to begin the second period. Perry’s and Irving’s third points of the night came via assists on Arizona’s sixth tally. New Mexico responded twice before the end of the period to cut the Sundogs’ lead to 6-3 heading into the third stanza. Fuller pulled his club to within four at the 11:24 mark with his first of the season from Mike MacDonald and Andrew Smale for his club’s first goal since early in the first period. Craig Macdonald notched his second of the game with 1:24 remaining in the frame on a behind-the-back leave from Leonard, lifting a shot over Joel Gistedt who was sliding post-to-post. Arizona held a 15-12 shot advantage in the period for a 40-minute 31-24 cushion.
New Mexico’s Mitch Stephens pulled his club to within two late in the final period but that would be as close as the visiting team would come as Arizona held on for the win. The final shot total favored the Sundogs, 44-38.
Joel Gistedt appeared in net for Arizona for the seventh time and improved to 3-4-0 on the year stopping 34 of 38 shots on net. Jason Wolfe started in net for New Mexico but was replaced by backup Andrew Martin after allowing five goals on 16 shots. Martin turned aside 27 of 28 shots in 38 minutes of play Wednesday night. Arizona finished 3-for-9 with the man advantage while holding New Mexico to one power play goal on six chances.
With the win, Arizona improves to 8-8-1 on the year and remains three points back of Southwest Division leaders the Odessa Jackalopes. The Laredo Bucks visit Prescott Valley on Friday and Saturday in a rematch of the 2008 Southern Conference Finals. Both games are slated for 7:05pm starts. Tickets are available by phone at 1-866-4-GET-TIX (1-866-443-8849), online at www.gettix.net and in person at the Tim’s Toyota Center Box Office.