Harper’s two goals leads RoadRunners past Jackalopes

The Topeka RoadRunners talked about hitting the “reset” button in practice this week.

After Friday night’s victory over the Odessa Jackalopes, they may want to hit the “repeat” button.

After trailing 3-1 in the second period, Topeka (12-24-3) stormed back with four straight goals and held on late, winning 5-4 at Landon Arena.

The victory snapped a 10-game losing streak for Topeka.

“Our guys bought in tonight,” RoadRunners head coach Josh Kamrass said. “It’s good to see us step up and play the way I know we can play.”

Forward Max Harper led the way for Topeka offensively, with two goals on the night.

“We said to ourselves we were starting our season over tonight,” Harper said. “This win is big for us, and it gets us going on the right track.”

The Runners came out with some offensive prowess Friday.

Harper blocked a shot from the Topeka blue line and found himself on a breakaway just 18 seconds into the game.

He deked and tucked it through goaltender Jonny Hogue’s legs for a 1-0 Topeka lead. It was his 14th goal of the season.

Less than a minute later, at the 1:43 mark, the Jackalopes tied it right back up, with forward Zach Zeck flicking a shot behind goaltender Ben Churchfield.

An odd-man rush gave Odessa a lead at the 6:39 mark, with defenseman Christian Hausinger picking up his fifth goal of the season.

Forward Will Schlagenhauf had a point blank chance to tie the game in the waning seconds of the first, but Hogue made a sprawling glove save to keep it 2-1.

Topeka outshot Odessa 12-9 in the first period.

A powerplay goal off the stick of forward Levi Wunder came at the 9:53 mark of the second period extending the Odessa lead, with Churchfield unable to make a diving stop.

Topeka got back in it at 13:10, with forward Nick Granowicz poking a shot past Hogue, igniting the crowd and Runners’ players.

“There was no sense we were out of the game at any point tonight, which was good,” Kamrass said. “It was good to see the young guys step up and make plays when it counted.”

The momentum of Granowicz’s goal paid off, with Harper netting his second goal of the night at 15:48, evening the game at three.

With less than a minute to play in the period, on the powerplay, forward Marshall Bowery put Topeka ahead 4-3, with a quick snap shot beating Hogue.

Needing an insurance tally, forward Phil Erickson took matters into his own hands at 2:22 of the third period. Erickson ripped a shot stick side low past a screen, putting Topeka up 5-3.

Topeka had the chance to make it 6-3 with a penalty shot at 6:23, but they could not convert on the opportunity, leaving the door open for the Jackalopes.

Odessa cut the lead to 5-4 with a powerplay tally at 10:26 of the third. Forward Ludwig Stenlund took a feed from Zech along the right faceoff dot and blasted a one-timer past Churchfield.

Churchfield and company held on late, as Odessa pressed. He finished the night with 32 saves on 36 shots.

The two teams will finish the two-game series at 7:05 p.m. Saturday at Landon Arena.