Inspired third period leads Runners to 3-2 victory

Two goals in 32 seconds was the difference on Friday night for the Topeka RoadRunners.

Trailing 2-1 in the early stages of the third period, forward Jakub Urbanek and defenseman Keenan Johnson beat Springfield goaltender Jurja Ovecka at 5:33 and 6:05 of the third period, giving Topeka a 3-2 lead.

The Jr. Blues pulled Ovecka in the waning minutes, but the RoadRunners’ defense and goaltender Sam Metcalf kept them at bay, as Topeka (11-20-2) skated away with a 3-2 victory at Landon Arena.

For Johnson, it was his first goal of the season, as his shot from the right point found its way through a screen and into the back of the net. Forward Dallas Tulik and Nick Schultze notched the assists on the play.

“I was super happy to get that first goal out of the way,” Johnson said. “It was a huge period for us. We came into the locker room after the second period and knew we needed to pick it up, and we did.”

Urbanek also came into the game having been due for some “puck luck.” As he skated behind the net, he quick fired a wrap-a-round shot into the net, swinging the momentum in Topeka’s favor.

“Jakub has been putting the pucks on net a lot, and he’s been stymied several times,” RoadRunners head coach Justin DeMartino said. “I’m really excited for him to get some bounces in his favor, and hopefully this will get him going in the second half of the season.”

Springfield forward Jeff Skinner opened up the scoring Friday, beating Metcalf on a breakaway at 5:23 of the first period.

It didn’t take long for Topeka to respond. Adrian Elefalk, in his first game back from injury, fired a shot home at 8:00 of the first period.

The 1-1 tie would remain until forward Max Brainin beat Metcalf at 10:05 of the second period, giving the Jr. Blues a 2-1 lead.

Springfield appeared to tack on a third goal in the second period, but it was immediately reviewed by referee Trevor Wohlford and was eventually disallowed.

The RoadRunners will look to keep the momentum going at 7:05 p.m. Saturday at Landon Arena, as they will finish the series with the Jr. Blues.