It took over 40 minutes for the first tally between the Topeka Pilots and the Odessa Jackalopes Saturday night.
But eventually, it was Pilots captain Austin McCarthy who scored the breakthrough tally at 3:28 of the third period, propelling Topeka (33-14-5) to a 1-0 victory at the Ector County Coliseum.
McCarthy’s goal came as defenseman Matt Clark’s shot careened off of the end boards and back out to McCarthy, who knocked it into the back of the net.
It was McCarthy’s 17th of the season.
Pilots goaltender Guy Blessing had a solid night in net, stopping all 21 shots he faced for a shutout victory, as he improves to 15-10-1 on the season. It was Blessing’s second shutout of the year.
Topeka went 4-for-4 on the night on the penalty kill, keeping the Jackalopes at bay and keeping the Pilots penalty kill at ninth place in the NAHL.
Odessa (9-39-2) pulled goaltender Andrew Takacs late in regulation for an opportunity to even the contest, but they could not beat Blessing.
With the victory, Topeka remains in third place in the NAHL South Division, three points ahead of the fourth place Shreveport Mudbugs.
Topeka heads into another pivotal matchup next weekend, facing the Lone Star Brahmas at the NYTEX Sports Centre.