Pilots drop Friday contest with Ice Wolves

The Topeka Pilots started slow on Friday and never recovered. 

Topeka (26-12-3) fell behind early and could not find a rhythm, dropping a Friday night contest with the New Mexico Ice Wolves by a final of 6-3 at Landon Arena. 

The Pilots and Ice Wolves were tied at two after the first period, but three consecutive tallies from New Mexico (9-28-4) pushed the game out of reach. 

Topeka has now played three games against New Mexico this season, losing all three. 

Lack of chances was not the issue for Topeka, outshooting New Mexico 41-22, but the Pilots struggled to finish. 

“We had our chances, but we kind of shot ourselves in the foot there with letting in some early goals,” Pilots head coach Simon Watson said. “We didn’t have our best compete level tonight, and it costed us.” 

After Pilots forward Michael Muschitiello cut the deficit to 5-3 late in the third with a powerplay goal, New Mexico bounced right back with a timely goal 22 seconds later to take away any momentum towards a comeback. 

“We stopped doing the things that brought us success the last month and a half,” Watson said. “We stopped playing as a team and started playing as individuals, and that’s what made the difference.” 

The Pilots fell behind early, with New Mexico finding early success, scoring on two of their first four shots on goaltender Guy Blessing. Blessing had an unusually rough night in net, stopping 16 of the 22 shots he faced, dropping his record to 10-9-1 on the season. 

Forward Kyler Yeo picked up his fifth goal of the season, beating goaltender Henrik Laursen to make it 2-1 at 10:09. Yeo’s goal came off a redirection of a shot from the blue by forward Austin McCarthy, giving McCarthy his team leading 25th assist. McCarthy would add another assist later in the contest, bringing him to 26. 

Forward Nick Nardecchia put the game on even keel at 18:32 of the first, taking a slick feed from forward Quinn Green and beating Laursen, making it 2-2 after 20 minutes. 

After a disappointing outcome to Friday’s contest, Topeka will be looking to rebound in Saturday’s contest, with puck drop set for 7:05 p.m., as the Pilots look to pick up their first win over the Ice Wolves this season.