A bad bounce was the difference Friday night for the Topeka RoadRunners.
Entering the third period with a 3-2 lead, Topeka relinquished the tying goal early in the frame and saw a late period Jr. Blues goal seal the deal, as they fell 5-3 at the Nelson Center.
Forward Brennan Blaszczak had the game-winner at 18:07 of the third period, his 21st goal of the season. He also knotted the game at three at the 3:49 mark.
“Unfortunately, it went off the referee’s skate and right to Springfield, which led to an odd-man break the other way where they scored late,” RoadRunners coach Josh Kamrass said. “It’s frustrating to lose a game on a bad bounce.”
Forward Brandon Puricelli finished off the Runners at 19:15, scoring an empty-net goal after Topeka (15-29-5) pulled Ben Churchfield for a sixth attacker.
This gave Springfield (23-23-2) three unanswered goals to close out the game, as they outshot Topeka 11-10 in the final stanza.
“You can’t let teams off the hook when you’ve got them down, and our inconsistency let them back in the game tonight,” Kamrass said.
Topeka opened up the game strong, taking a 2-0 lead after first period goals from Marshall Bowery and Joey Moore.
Springfield would respond, however, with Max Nylander and Patrick Smyth evening the score at two apiece heading into first intermission.
“We were up, and we seemed to let our foot off the gas and that put us on our heels,” Kamrass said.
Forward Nick Granowicz scored his fifth goal of the season at 4:39 of the second period, with Churchfield getting his first assist of the year on the play.
This score stood through a barrage of 21 second period shots on goal by Springfield, propelling Topeka to a lead at second intermission.
Jordan Greenfield-Flemon stopped 28 of 31 shots to get the win for the Jr. Blues, while Churchfield took the loss, stopping 38 of the 42 shots he faced.
The two teams tangle again Saturday at 6:05 p.m. at the Nelson Center, with Topeka seeking a series split.