In a match up against the North American Hockey League South Division’s leading team, the Topeka Pilots could not keep pace on Friday night.
Topeka (13-8-2) started strong out of the gate, taking a 1-0 lead in the first period, before Lone Star (15-5-1) tallied four straight goals, taking game one of a two-game series by a final of 4-1 at Landon Arena.
Brahmas forward Evan Googins tallied a hat-trick, netting his fourth, fifth, and sixth goals of the season, with one goal each period.
Puck control and offensive pressure was a main concern for the Pilots on Friday, as turnovers cost Topeka.
“Our execution and making smarter plays (were our concern),” Pilots head coach Simon Watson said. “They capitalized on our mistakes, and we did not capitalize on theirs.”
The Pilots lone tally came at 11:37 of the first period, with defenseman Luc Salem continued his strong offensive start, with his third tally of the season.
His goal came after a nice dish from forward Michael Muschitiello found Salem along the blue line. With space, he edged into the slot area and ripped a wrist shot past goaltender Cayden Bailey.
Salem now leads the Pilots with 12 points on the season.
Following Salem’s tally, the Brahmas netted two first period goals, with Googins evening the score at 14:39, beating goaltender Guy Blessing on the powerplay.
Forward Stefan Miklakos had Friday’s game-winning goal at 18:45 of the first period, taking advantage of a turnover. Miklakos took an uncontested shot from just outside of the crease, beating Blessing stick-side, giving the Brahmas a 2-1 lead into the first intermission.
Googins extended the lead to 3-1 just 58 seconds into the second, with a well-placed shot beating Blessing high on the blocker-side.
With Topeka struggling to create pressure in the Brahmas zone, shots on goal in the middle frame were 8-4 in favor of Lone Star.
The final tally of the night for Lone Star came at 5:35 of the third period, pushing the lead to 4-1.
The Pilots will look to split the series on Saturday night, with puck drop at 7:05 p.m. at Landon Arena. Saturday’s game will include free youth t-shirt giveaways on a first-come first-served basis. The contest will also include $2 popcorn and $2 sodas.