Pilots fall in shootout to Shreveport

TOPEKA, Kan. – Forward Jay Feiwell had a hand in all three Shreveport goals Sunday afternoon, including the shootout game-winner, as the Mudbugs escaped with a 3-2 victory over Topeka in North American Hockey League action at Landon Arena.
The point earned in the shootout enabled the Pilots to solidify their spot in second place in the NAHL South Division with 32 points (14-10-2-2). Shreveport, meanwhile, leapfrogged over idle Lone Star into third with 28 points (12-11-1-3).
Pilots head coach Simon Watson didn’t think his club was at its best on Sunday.
“For us to get a point in this one was a big accomplishment,” said Topeka head coach Simon Watson. “I don’t think either team played their best hockey – typical Sunday hockey game – but we will take the point.”
The Pilots introduced goaltender McLean Dorr to the home crowd as the Pittsburgh, PA., native earned his first start with his new club. With regular Emil Gransoe earning a night off, the 6-foot-4 Dorr was impressive.
“For not having played in quite a while, I thought he looked comfortable in there,” said Watson. “He came up with some huge saves when we needed them. He looked strong.”
The Pilots, similar to Saturday’s overtime victory, found themselves down late in the game but managed to pull even with 5:28 remaining as forward Connor Zilisch scored his 6th of the year. Zilisch took a nice feed from teammate Matthew Francois and skated in on Shreveport goalie Leo Chuard, beating the Swiss goaltender from in tight to send the game into overtime. Pilots forward Michael Muschitiello also assisted.
Both Chuard and Dorr had their moments throughout the game. Dorr was especially strong in the first period when the Mudbugs outshot the hosts by a 13-9 margin, and again in overtime with several big stops.
Chuard, however, was a tad better as he faced 14 shots in the third and 6 more in the three-on-three overtime – including a penalty shot by Topeka’s Valdemar Ahlberg that could have ended the game. In the shootout, Chuard shut down Pilots forwards Austin McCarthy, Muschieiello and Zilisch.
At the other end, Dorr stopped Shreveport’s Conor Witherspoon, but couldn’t get a glove on Feiwell’s quick shot from 10 feet out that glanced off the far post.
The Pilots – who finished the game outshooting the Mudbugs 38-36 – actually opened the scoring 9:04 into the game as Ahlberg slammed home the rebound from Quinn Green’s shot. Muschietiello had the second assist.
Shreveport, however, cashed in on a pair of second-period power plays five minutes apart. Defenseman CJ McGee fired a 30-footer past a screen Dorr to tie the game, and Feiwell sniped a shot from the top of the left circle that beat Dorr to the glove side.
Both goalies took over from there until Zilisch’s goal late in the third.
The Pilots continue their 10-game homestand next weekend (Dec. 14-15) when they host division-leading Amarillo. Both games are set to start at 7:05 p.m. at the Kansas Expocentre.