The Topeka Pilots headed to Albuquerque this weekend for the first time to face the expansion New Mexico Ice Wolves.
But, New Mexico (2-15-1) was not interested in giving Topeka (13-6-2) a warm welcome.
In the Ice Wolves’ first home victory of their inaugural season, New Mexico held off a 6-on-4 powerplay for the Pilots late in the third, en route to a 2-1 victory over Topeka at the Outpost Ice Arenas.
The Pilots were outshot 35-24 for the contest, including a 17-7 shots on goal disparity in the third period, in favor of the Ice Wolves.
Topeka’s lone goal came at 11:11 of the second period, with forward Quinn Green skating in on a 2-on-1 break with forward Kaiden Scott. Scott feathered a saucer pass to Green, who buried a shot past goaltender Josh Graziano, evening the game at 1-1.
Two fewer skaters suited up for the Pilots than the Ice Wolves, as they battle several injuries.
New Mexico opened up the scoring just 26 seconds into the second after a scoreless first period. Forward Griffen Sanom was credited with the tally, his third goal of the season.
The game-winning goal found the back of the net at 8:44 of the third, with forward Jackson Wille also scoring his third of the year. Wille’s goal came after a turnover behind the net left goaltender Guy Blessing out of position.
As Blessing scrambled back, the puck snuck past him and fell across the goal line.
Looking to salvage a series sweep, the Pilots will get another shot at the Ice Wolves on Saturday night. Puck drop is set for 8 p.m. CST.