by Arch Ecker
After suffering a bitter loss the night before that saw Topeka surrender a 2-goal third period lead and lose 3-2, the RoadRunners exploded to a 5-0 lead only to see Amarillo close the gap in the third before holding on for the 5-4 win on Saturday night in front of 2,167 fans in Landon Arena.
After a scoreless first period saw Topeka dominate their guests, outshooting them 14-7, the second period saw more of the same but once the puck found the net, the floodgates opened. The 'Runners power play had been held off the scoreboard Friday night but found it's stride on Saturday, starting with a Brian Christie redirection of a Jordan Davis shot at 5:54 for a 1-0 lead on a 4-on-3 power play. After another Amarillo penalty and on a 5-on-3 power play, Jacob Poe blasted home his first goal of the season at 7:19.
Topeka snapped home another goal just :23 seconds later as Nate Milam finished off a nice pass from Andrew O'Leary, and suddenly the 'Runners were sporting a 3-0 lead, scoring three times in just 1:48 and sending Bulls goalie Nikifor Szczerba to the bench, relieved by Steve Bolton. Justin Hussar notched his 14th goal of the season at 15:20 when his centering feed from behind the net went in off Bolton's skate for a 4-0 lead, and Ryan White swatted home his 6th of the year at 17:00 and at 5-0, the RoadRunners were in complete control. A late second period fluky goal by Terrance Johnson gave Amarillo a glimmer of hope despite trailing 5-1 after 2, and being outshot 27-12.
The third period saw Amarillo methodically crawl back into the game, starting with a Chris Cass goal at 12:52. The original shot from the point hit a RoadRunner in the back and fell at the feet of Cass who snapped it home to make it a 5-2 game. When Amarillo punched home a 5-on-3 power play goal on a Kyle Sucher slapshot with 2:34 left to play, it seemed a little too close for comfort. Bulls captain Derek Hills scored on a slapshot with 1:00 minute remaining with another 5-on-3 power play and the extra attacker on the ice with the Amarillo net empty. The Bulls were awarded yet another 5-on-3 power play in the final :13 seconds, but a couple of key faceoff wins by Jordan Davis helped seal the RoadRunner victory. Rasmus Tirronen made 18 saves picking up his 10th win of the season.
Topeka (14-6-2) moves into a third place tie with Wichita Falls but with four games in hand. Next weekend the 'Runners head to Chesterfield, MO to face the St. Louis Bandits (19-7-3). Topeka and St. Louis have split their four previous meetings this season. Fridays game is 7:05 pm, and Saturday's game will be played at 5:00 pm. Both games will be available to listen free on countrylegends1069fm.com, and video streaming available for purchase throught FASTHockey.com.
The RoadRunners have signed forward Logan Smith to a tender for the 2011-12 season. He skated on Saturday night for the 'Runners. He plays for the Colorado Thunderbirds U18 AAA team, and being on Topeka's affiliate roster is eligible to play in up to six games this season.
Michael Hill's 6 game goal streak came to end on Saturday night. His goal on Friday night was his 20th, making him the fastest RoadRunner to score 20, doing it in his 21st game. The old record was 26 games, shared by Cole Schneider (2009-10) and Tibor Kutalek (2006-07).