The Topeka RoadRunners have been on a hot streak, winning 6 of their last 7 games heading into a weekend series with the St. Louis Bandits, who had won three straight and were 10-2-1 at home. The RoadRunners used speed and skill to put up a 5-2 win on Friday night, the teams 15th win of the year.
Even more impressive than the Bandits 10-2-1 home record was the 17-0-2 record they had when scoring first. With that in mind, there was reason for St. Louis to feel confident when Evan Stibbard snapped home a power play goal at 14:20 of a fairly brisk first period. Topeka tied it up late in the period when Brian Christie's aggressive forecheck created a turnover that Christie fed to Nate Milam who then rocketed a shot up under the crossbar at 19:06 to tie the game at 1-1. Topeka outshot St. Louis 10-9 in the first period.
The second period saw the RoadRunners effectively put the game away. Brian Christie muscled his way down the right wing, got in behind the defense and slid a sharp pass across to Nate Milam who stuffed home his second goal of the night at 4:12. Later, while skating 4-on-4, Jacob Poe flipped a pass off the left wing wall to the top of the circle for Brian Christie who blasted it over the glove hand of Tom Comunale for a 3-1 at 7:26. At 10:35, Justin Hussar notched his 15th goal of the season while on a 5-on-3 power play. St. Louis was penalized six times in the period and as a result was outshot 20-6 in the second period.
In the third period, a 5-on-3 power play for St. Louis yielded a goal as Patrick Sheehan ripped a low shot past Rasmus Tirronen at 5:36, but the RoadRunner defense was stifling and St. Louis managed only 4 shots in the final period despite 4 power play chances. Down 2 goals, St. Louis pulled the goalie for the extra attacker but Brian Christie added a short handed empty netter at 17:57 when he picked off a point-to-point pass across the blue that he fired 120 feet into the abandoned cage. The 'Runners closed the deal with a resounding 5-2 victory, with Tirronen turning aside 18 Bandit shots for the win, his 11th on the season.
Topeka (15-6-2) plays St. Louis (19-8-3) again Saturday at 5:05 pm. It's the final meeting of the year in Chesterfield for the two clubs, who are scheduled to meet for a two game series in March at Landon Arena. Saturday's pregame show begins at 4:45 pm on countrylegends1069fm.com.
Forward Justin Hussar kept his consecutive games point streak alive, now at 14 points over the last 9 games.
Topeka kept pace one point behind second place Amarillo who won 3-1 in Corpus Christi on Friday night.
Head Coach Scott Langer, goalie Rasmus Tirronen, forward and captain Michael Hill and defenseman Jacob Poe all fly to Massachusetts Sunday morning for the NAHL Top Prospects Tournament, where they will play three games in three days before rejoining the RoadRunners in Dallas the following weekend for a two game set with the Texas Tornado. They will be joined in Walpole, MA by Tornado head coach Tony Curtale, forwards David Rigatti and Rock Einersen, defenseman Ralfs Freibergs, and goalie Jimmy Kruger. The seven players will all compete for "Team Rafalski". Follow the progress of the tournament at http://www.nahltopprospects.com/.