The Topeka Pilots fought valiantly Friday night to equalize and win their matchup with the Corpus Christi IceRays, pressuring all night.
It were the IceRays, however, who escaped victorious.
After giving up an early goal just two minutes in, Topeka (23-28-8) played from behind all night. Only surrendering the lone tally, Topeka could not solve Slovakian goaltender Samuel Vyletelka, who made 34 saves on the night, as Topeka dropped a heartbreaking 1-0 game to Corpus Christi.
With the loss, Topeka has now been eliminated from the postseason race, with the IceRays clinching the last spot in the NAHL South Division.
The game-winning goal came off of the stick of forward Matthew Headland, who netted his fifth goal of the year at 2:26. Headland beat goaltender McLean Dorr with the IceRays on a 2-on-1 break. His shot whistled by Dorr for a 1-0 lead, which stood till the final horn in the third period.
Dorr made 36 saves on 37 attempts in the contest, dropping his goals against average to 3.62 overall and 3.14 since joining the Pilots.
The Pilots had a great opportunity late, with forward Nikita Krivokrasov whistled for hooking at 18:02, setting up a powerplay for the Pilots with only 1:58 to play.
After establishing play in the IceRays’ zone, the Pilots then opted to pull Dorr, making it a 6-on-4 powerplay just over a minute.
Vyletelka was up to the task, however, seeing shots well and calmly smothering any rebound chances.
Topeka will look to end the season on a high note, with the final game of the 2018-2019 campaign set to get underway at 7:05 p.m. Saturday night at the American Bank Center, as the Pilots look to split with the IceRays.