Pilots drop overtime thriller with Mudbugs

The Topeka Pilots were less than a minute away from a sweep on Saturday night, but the Shreveport Mudbugs had other plans. 

With just 29 seconds left, leading 2-1, the Pilots surrendered a game-tying tally as the Mudbugs laid on the pressure. 

With the match still within reach, Topeka (20-25-8) looked to grab the extra point in overtime. Following a hooking penalty on Pilots forward Michael Muschitiello, however, the Mudbugs picked up the game-winning goal, winning 3-2 at George’s Pond Hirsch Coliseum. 

Forward C.J. Regula was credited with the game-winner, his 10th goal of the season, after a nice one-timer from the left faceoff circle beat goaltender McLean Dorr. 

With the overtime loss, Topeka stays five points behind Corpus Christi for the fourth and final playoff spot in the NAHL South Division. The IceRays also lost in extra time Saturday, falling in a shootout to the Lone Star Brahmas. 

The Pilots jumped out to another early lead on Saturday, with forward Austin McCarthy picking right back up where he left off on Friday night, after he scored the game-winning goal in Friday’s contest. 

McCarthy blasted a slap shot from the blue line on the play, beating goaltender Leo Chuard for a 1-0 lead at 18:47 of the first. 

The lead stood through the midway portion of the second period, when Shreveport forward Jay Feiwell netted his 14th marker of the season, evening the game at one. 

Topeka fired right back at 10:51 of middle period, with forward Shane Hathaway earning his first tally in a Pilots uniform and his fifth goal on the season, overall. 

Hathaway turned around and wristed a puck on net from just outside the left faceoff circle, surprising Chuard and leaking under his pads for a 2-1 lead. 

The lead stood until late in the third, with the Mudbugs equalizing it late. 

Shreveport outshot Topeka 47-26 for the contest. Each team had good chances on the powerplay, with the Pilots going 0-for-2 and the Mudbugs going 1-for-5. 

Topeka returns to action March 21-23, with a big three-game series with the Odessa Jackalopes, as they continue the playoff battle in the South Division.