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Roadrunners Report: Games 1-10

The Coyotes' AHL team has started its inaugural season in style

by Alexander Kinkopf @AEKinkopf / Tucson Roadrunners

ROADRUNNERS REPORT: Games 1-10

Record: 7-1-2-0

Standings: First Place, Pacific Division

TUCSON -- It has been, quite frankly, the type of start a team dreams of.

One month into their inaugural American Hockey League season, the Roadrunners are riding a wondrous outset founded on phenomenal on-ice performances and unwavering support from Tucson's welcoming, refreshingly eager fan base.

The good doesn't always come easy for an organization starting from the ground up, but with resources nearby in Glendale, an exuberant, young roster full of promising prospects, and an arena crisp of almost $4 million worth of renovations, you're going to find it difficult to not get caught up in the early triumph.

Since the team's 5-3 defeat at the hands of the San Diego Gulls in their first-ever contest on Oct. 14, it hasn't lost a game in regulation, roaring forward with a 7-0-2-0 record that at one point positioned it as the best club in the 30-team league.

The Roadrunners currently sit atop the Western Conference and second overall in the AHL with a 7-1-2-0 record, and have claimed first-place in the Pacific Division since the second week of the season.

Along with the initial success team-wise, three players who have donned Roadrunners uniforms have already transitioned to the NHL for time with the Coyotes; goaltender Justin Peters, forward Tyler Gaudet, and defenseman Anthony DeAngelo.

Personal recognition has come from more avenues than intra-organization promotions; defenseman Kyle Wood was named the AHL's Rookie of the Month for October after registering eight points (2G, 6A) through the Roadrunners' first five games of the season. Forward Michael Bunting's streak of goals in five consecutive games is the longest for any player in the league this season. Adin Hill's six wins are tied for second among goaltenders.

There are, in fact, singular beings putting this team on the map amidst their cohesive success.

Among the club's strong suits, those of which accomplished in harmonious fashion, has been its special teams; the Roadrunners' power-play unit has gotten off to a ramped start, chiming in at third-best in the AHL while scoring on over 27 percent of their man-advantage opportunities, and their penalty kill rings in second to one in the league with a 90.2 percent success rate.

With the success comes a pretty good show, and attendance has been respectable through the Roadrunners' first five home games at Tucson Arena, where they've posted an impressive 4-0-1-0 record thus far. 6,521 fans filled the arena to capacity for the team's home opening comeback victory on Oct. 28, and through the initial stint of their home schedule, they've averaged just under 4,000 fans each game.

NOTES:

• Forwards Chris Mueller (3G, 8A) and Craig Cunningham (3G, 8A) lead the team in points scored (11).

• Brendan Perlini leads the team in goals scored (6), and is tied for first in the league among rookies.

• Eight of the team's 10 games have been decided by one goal.

• Tyler Gaudet leads the AHL in shorthanded goals scored with two.

• Kyle Wood's five power-play assists are tied for the most among AHL rookies, his nine points (2G, 7A) are 13th among defensemen.

Tucson returns to action this Friday and Saturday night against the Manitoba Moose. All Friday games are presented by News 4 Tucson and this Friday is $2 beer night. Saturday night is the start of Dollar Days featuring $1 hot dogs, popcorn and soda on select Saturday home games. Puck drop is slated for 7:05 pm both nights. Single game seats start at just $14 per game and are on sale now through the TCC Box Office and TucsonRoadrunners.com.

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