Pilots can’t keep pace with IceDogs, fall 4-1

The first and second periods fared much better for the Topeka Pilots on Saturday, after a rough outing on Friday night in Fairbanks, Alaska. 

Topeka (17-21-5) still wound up playing from behind, however, trailing 1-0 after two periods and getting outscored 3-1 in the third, en route to falling 4-1 to the Ice Dogs at Big Dipper Ice Arena. 

With the loss, the Pilots remain in fifth place in the NAHL South Division, four points behind the fourth-place Corpus Christi IceRays. 

After mustering a combined eight shots on goal through the first 40 minutes of Friday’s contest, Topeka came out ready on Saturday, outshooting the IceDogs 11-8 in the first period and generating several quality scoring chances. 

With a solid second period by the IceDogs garnering 18 shots on goal, Fairbanks broke the scoreless tie at 11:13 of the frame. Forward Jax Murray, took a nice across-ice feed while on the powerplay and redirected the pass past goaltender Emil Gransoe, giving Fairbanks a powerplay goal and a 1-0 lead. Fairbanks ended the night 1-for-6 on the man-advantage. 

Fairbanks held its slim lead heading into the third period. Forward Luke Ciolli doubled the lead at 7:40, beating Gransoe on a quick wrist shot from near the left faceoff circle. 

Forward Christian Thomas got the Pilots on the board and cut the Fairbanks lead in half at 9:24 of the third, deflecting a shot from forward Quinn Green, and beating goaltender Mattias Sholl. Thomas’s goal was his first of the season and was scored while on the powerplay, as the Pilots went 1-for-4 for the evening. 

Ciolli capitalized on a rebound and pushed it back to a two-goal deficit, beating Gransoe at 13:02 and putting the Pilots on their heels again. 

Forward Tyler Deweese finished off the scoring for Fairbanks, taking advantage of a turnover and ripping a one-timer into the back of the net. 

Now heading back to the lower 48 states, the Pilots resume action on Feb. 15-16, heading to North Richland Hills, Texas to face the Lone Star Brahmas for a two-game series.