TOPEKA, Kan. – First-place Amarillo exploded for four goals in the first period and was perfect on the penalty kill Friday night as the Bulls posted a 5-3 NAHL win over the Topeka RoadRunners at the Kansas ExpoCentre.
The RoadRunners (3-5) and Amarillo (5-2) meet again in the series finale Saturday night at 7:05 p.m.
The Bulls’ Kosta Likourezos (1-1) and Brendan Walkom accounted for the majority of Amarillo’s offense as they chased Topeka starting goaltender Mike Rockwell before the end of the first period.
Amarillo started off by converting on the power play just 4:47 into the game as Mika was left alone in front of Rockwell, and he put a nifty move on the 6-5 goaltender and slid the puck just inside the far post.
The RoadRunners, however, responded with two straight goals. Defenseman Matt Barnes scored his first of the season at the 12:03 mark with a 55-footer that found its way through traffic, and two minutes later Max Harper collected a loose puck and jammed it home for a 2-1 lead.
But the Bulls converted on the power play again barely 90 seconds later as Jeff Solow’s one-timer from the blue line beat Rockwell to the glove side. Less than a minute later Steven Ipri scored on a breakaway and Likourezos ended Rockwell’s night with a shot from close range.
Ryan Snowden entered the game and limited to the Bulls to a single goal the rest of the way as Jake Nitche took advantage of a turnover at the Topeka blue line with the Runners on the power play and beat Snowden on a breakaway halfway through the second period. Alex Frye scored his second goal as a oadrunners three minutes later, but the Runners could get no closer.
Topeka finished with a 32-38 edge in shots on goal but was 0-7 on the power play. The Bulls went 2-6 with an extra man. Amarillo goaltender Nikita Babintsev finished with 29 saves while Snowden stopped 16 of 17 shots.
NOTES: The RoadRunners are coming off a successful 3-1 showing at the NAHL Blaine Showcase, at which they picked up defenseman Jay Keranen in a trade with Fairbanks. Keranen, who wears #6 for the RoadRunners, was obtained for a draft pick in the 2017 NAHL draft. Keranen played for Brighton High School last season, and produced 25 points in 30 games in his senior season …. Entering Friday’s game vs. Amarillo, forward Jeff Makowski (St. Louis, MO.) was the RoadRunners leading goal-scorer with 5 in 7 games, while Andrew Hart is the top point-getter with 8 (3 goals, 5 assists) in 7 games …. Former RoadRunner Johnny Walker scored in his first game with the Chicago Steel of the USHL ….