The Topeka RoadRunners and St. Louis Bandits both came into Game 1 on a three game postseason win streak. Something had to give, and when the dust settled, it was the Bandits who escaped with a 2-1 win.
The first period started off at a brisk pace with both teams racing back and forth creating opportunities. The pace served the \’Runners well, as they took a 1-0 lead at 4:29 when Edgars Lipsbergs punched in a rebound, his 4th goal of the playoffs. St. Louis caught a break at 11:35 when Ryan Belonger\’s power play shot from deep down the right wing wall somehow squeezed past Eric Rohrkemper, tying the game at 1-1. Topeka outshot St. Louis 11-7 in the wide open first period.
Things started to clog up a bit in the second, and the \’Runners had to kill off a 5-on-3 penalty early in the period. With teams skating 4-on-4, a Topeka pass was picked off by John Houston, who fired it ahead to Brooks Bertsch, springing him behind the \’Runners defense. His wrister beat Rohrkemper on the glove side for a 2-1 Bandit lead. Outshot 19-12 through two periods, St. Louis held a 2-1 edge.
The third period saw the \’Runners use their speed to create some chances, but St. Louis backchecked and defended well, and both teams strangled each other as far as limiting chances. Shots on goal were held to 6-4 in favor of the \’Runners, but a late goalie pull failed to yield an equalizer for Topeka and St. Louis managed to steal a Game 1 win on the road.
The RoadRunners look to square the series on Friday night in Game 2. Faceoff is set for 7:05 pm in Landon Arena. The series shifts to Chesterfield, MO next weekend.