After a disappointing loss Friday night, the Topeka Pilots came back with a better performance on Saturday night.
Unfortunately, Topeka (13-9-2) could not solve Lone Star Brahmas goaltender Ludvig Persson.
Persson made 31 saves, Lone Star (16-5-1) scored twice in the first period and sealed it with an empty-net goal late, as Lone Star knocked off Topeka 3-0 at Landon Arena in front of 1,563 fans.
The Pilots outshot the Brahmas 31-23, but Persson kept the Pilots at bay, earning his fourth shutout of the season and lowering his goals against average to 1.46.
Pilots goaltender Guy Blessing was equally solid at the other end of the ice, giving up two goals but making several big stops to keep the Pilots in it.
Topeka was held to just one goal in the two-game series with Lone Star, as they now sit in third place in the NAHL South Division with 28 points.
“Scoring goals has been tough right now for our guys,” Pilots head coach Simon Watson said. “Our guys are fighting a little bit of issues with confidence, but we played a good game tonight. I liked our compete level all night.”
Lone Star forward Thomas Daskas opened the scoring at 6:32 of the first period, with a nice redirection just outside of the crease. Forward Eric Huss picked up the primary assist on the play, his 12th of the season, feeding the puck to the slot as Daskas ricocheted it past Blessing.
A powerplay goal extended the lead to 2-0 at 10:12 of the first, with forward Michal Stinil beating Blessing on a one-timer from the right faceoff circle.
Trailing 2-0 after one, Topeka outshot Lone Star 20-14 in the second period, fueled by the especially rowdy fans at Landon Arena Saturday night, but they could not find the back of the net.
“It was an awesome crowd and great environment tonight,” Watson said. “It shows that people are starting to pay attention to hockey here. We wish we could have given them a win, but there’s a lot of season left to play.”
Stinil also had the empty-net goal for the Brahmas in the third at 19:27, finishing off Topeka’s chances of a comeback.
After playing 24 games to this point in the season, which is tied for the most in the NAHL, Topeka will now enjoy a short respite before the next series.
The Pilots return to action against the Odessa Jackalopes on Nov. 29 and Dec. 1 at the Ector County Coliseum in Odessa, Texas.