Battling the rival Amarillo Bulls, the Topeka Pilots could not finish off a series sweep on Saturday night.
After winning Thursday and Friday, Topeka (8-3-1) could not keep pace with Amarillo in Saturday’s affair, giving up four goals before getting on the board halfway through the third period. Despite a valiant push in the final 10 minutes, the Pilots fell to the Bulls 4-1 on Pucks & Paws Night at the Stormont Vail Events Center.
Even with the loss, the Pilots have started the season strong, currently in first place in the NAHL South Division. Saturday’s contest was the 12th game of the season for the Pilots, the most of any team in the NAHL, with most teams still in the single digits for games played.
“We’ve played a lot of hockey in a short time,” Pilots head coach Simon Watson said. “Our guys have played the most of any team in the league, and when you are 8-3-1 after 12 games, you’re pretty happy.”
Topeka fell behind in the first period, as forward Matt Allen tallied his sixth goal of the season at 12:47. Shorthanded, Allen raced in on Pilots goaltender Guy Blessing and slipped a shot through his pads. Blessing fell to 1-1-0 on the season, stopping 18 of 22 shots on goal.
In the second period, forward Noah Carlin tallied his second goal of the year, while on the powerplay, at 1:22.
A nice setup pushed the lead to 3-0 for the Bulls at 16:39 of the period, with forward Devan Tongue picking up the goal.
After a goal at the nine-minute mark of the third period pushed the Amarillo lead to 4-0, Topeka forward John Gormley got the Pilots on the board at 10:51, netting his first goal of the year. Forward Kaiden Scott had the primary assist, dishing a pass from behind the net to Gormley, who calmly beat goaltender Charlie Glockner to break up his shutout bid.
Topeka now will have an opportunity to rest up before the next series on October 11-12 at the Stormont Vail Events Center against the Shreveport Mudbugs.