Pilots can’t keep pace with Mudbugs, fall 8-2

The Topeka Pilots could not put it together on Saturday night versus the Shreveport Mudbugs. 

Despite coming out of the gate stronger than Friday, Topeka (17-18-6) played from behind all night, relinquishing two goals in each of the first two periods and four in the third, en route to falling 8-2 at George’s Pond Hirsch Coliseum. 

Topeka was outscored 11-2 by Shreveport in the series, struggling to find an answer on offense and defense. They were outshot 60-35 in Saturday’s affair. 

With the loss, the Pilots remain in fifth place in the NAHL South Division playoff race. 

Despite an energetic start to the contest by the Pilots, Shreveport opened the scoring at 3:38 of the first period, with C.J. Regula beating goaltender Emil Gransoe, outwaiting him and sliding the puck into the back of the net. 

Defenseman Jacob Skolnik then doubled the lead to 2-0 at 17:26 of the first period, beating Gransoe on a broken play in front of the net. 

The Pilots only trailed 2-0 with less than a minute to play in the second period, but two late Mudbugs goals in the second period put them down 4-0 heading into the final period. The late period tallies were scored just 10 seconds apart. 

Forwards Jay Feiwell and Andrew Jackson scored at 19:11 and 19:21 of the frame, taking any momentum away from Topeka going into the final frame. 

Defenseman Max Finner broke the scoreless drought for the Pilots 32 seconds into the third period, while on a 5-on-3 powerplay. Finner’s shot from the point beat goaltender Leo Chuard, who appeared to be screened on the play, giving the Pilots life down 4-1. 

Shreveport re-extended the lead to four with a tally at 2:02 of the third, while shorthanded. On the play, forward Ethan Harrison picked off a clearing attempt from Gransoe behind the net. Harrison then turned and shot the puck into an empty net, making it 5-1 Mudbugs. 

The deficit was cut to 5-2 at 5:21 of the third when forward Quinn Green beat Chuard on a quick shot from the slot for his team-leading 17th goal of the season. Forward Hugh Quinn, with his 10th assist of the season on the play, fed the puck to Green, who wasted no time in beating Chuard. 

Two more tallies from Shreveport pushed the lead to 7-2 with goals coming at 8:57 and 9:40, chasing Gransoe from the game in favor of goaltender McLean Dorr. 

Forward Timothy Clifton added to the Shreveport lead, making it 8-2 at 15:14, with a powerplay tally. 

Topeka returns to action Feb. 1-2, traveling to Soldotna, Alaska to face the Kenai River Brown Bears.