Langford earns shutout, Pilots take care of Ice Wolves 3-0

The Topeka Pilots had been looking for an elusive complete game against the New Mexico Ice Wolves. 

Friday was the performance they had been looking for. 

Goaltender Josh Langford had a shutout with 34 saves and the Pilots had three different goal scorers, as Topeka (30-13-4) rolled past New Mexico at the Outpost Ice Arena in Albuquerque, N.M. 

The victory pushes Topeka back into third place in the NAHL South Division, as the Shreveport Mudbugs fell on Friday night to the Amarillo Bulls. 

Langford now improves to 9-0-2 since joining Topeka from New Mexico, with a 2.20 goals against average and .917 save percentage. 

The six-foot-five-inch Langford, a University of Maine commit, had to be especially strong in the first two periods, as the Ice Wolves peppered him with 28 shots on goal. 

But, it was the Pilots who got off to a strong start on the scoreboard, taking a 2-0 lead into first intermission. 

Forward Austin McCarthy opened the scoring with a powerplay goal at 12:11 of the first period. From the point, McCarthy’s shot leaked through goaltender Henrik Laursen and trickled just over the goal line for a 1-0 lead at 12:11. 

After a gritty individual effort from forward Michael Muschitiello late in the first, forward Nick Nardecchia doubled the Pilots lead, making it 2-0 at first intermission. On the powerplay, Nardecchia grabbed a loose puck just outside the crease and flipped it past Laursen with 12 seconds remaining in the opening frame. 

After a combined 33 shots in the second period resulted in no goals between the two sides, forward Shane Hathaway made it 3-0 Topeka at 7:13 of the third, giving the Pilots breathing room in the late minutes. 

Hathaway took a feed from forward Kyler Yeo on the play, and his well-placed shot beat Laursen. 

In the final moments of the contest, Ice Wolves defenseman Liam Ovington was called for a major penalty and game misconduct for spearing Pilots defenseman Luc Salem, which may affect New Mexico’s Saturday roster. 

The Pilots and Ice Wolves wrap up their two-game series Saturday night at 8:00 MST, 7:00 CST. The Pilots will be looking to complete a two-game sweep.