Blizzard knock off Pilots 5-2 in Thursday matinee

Down 4-2, the Topeka Pilots had chances in the third period Thursday afternoon. 

But stout goaltending from St. Cloud Blizzard goaltender Britt League kept Topeka off the board in the final frame. 

Then, a late goal gave the Blizzard insurance, as the Pilots suffered the first regular season defeat of the season, falling 5-2 in game two of the NAHL Showcase. 

Topeka (3-1-1) fell behind early, with a goal from Wilderness forward Derek Roberts at 4:37 making it 1-0. 

Then two more tallies late in the first put the Pilots down 3-0 entering the first intermission, a territory they had not been in this season. 

After regrouping, Topeka got back into the game with two goals in the first 45 seconds of the middle period. 

Forward Nick Nardecchia opened the scoring, stealing a pass from the Wilderness defense and beating League to cut the deficit to 3-1. 

Then it was forward Michael Muschitiello, who followed up on a shot from forward Connor Zilisch, to make it a 3-2 game. 

But the Pilots could not pull any closer. 

While on the powerplay, forward Ben Ward pushed the lead to 4-2 at 8:32, beating goaltender Jakub Dobes after a cross-ice pass found Ward open along the side of the net. 

Despite several early chances in the third for the Pilots to inch closer to a late-game push, Roberts put the game away at 15:49 of the third, to make it 5-2. 

The Pilots are back in action at 1 p.m. Friday against the Northeast Generals. The Generals fell 1-0 on Thursday to the Odessa Jackalopes.