Pilots finish weekend sweep of Jackalopes with 3-1 victory

The Topeka Pilots had control on Saturday night and made the most of their opportunities. 

After knocking off the Odessa Jackalopes in Friday’s affair at the Ector County Coliseum, Topeka (15-9-2) followed up with another solid performance Saturday, outshooting Odessa 41-16 on their way to a 3-1 victory for a two-game weekend sweep.  

With the sweep, the Pilots move back into third place in the tightly-contested NAHL South Division standings, now with 32 points. 

Goaltender Josh Langford, who is committed to the University of Maine, made his first start since being traded to the Pilots from the New Mexico Ice Wolves, stopping 15 of 16 shots on goal. 

Following the game, the biggest focus was on the health of Pilots forward Kyler Yeo, who was taken off the ice on a stretcher after taking a hit to the head at 12:12 of the third period. The play resulted in a five-minute major for head contact to Jackalopes defenseman Conner Lindsoe and a game misconduct. 

Yeo was conscious following the game and was taken to a local hospital in Odessa for further evaluation. He was released to ride the bus home with the team after scans came back clear. 

After a scoreless first period, the Pilots opened the scoring at 3:58 of the second, with Yeo scoring his fourth goal of the season, while on the powerplay. Yeo camped out in front of Jackalopes goaltender Aaron Randazzo on the play and knocked a rebound into the back of the net for a 1-0 lead. 

Odessa (7-15-2) evened the score at 7:10 with forward Matt Hutton’s fifth goal of the season, beating Langford on the blocker side. 

Taking back the momentum, forward Connor Zilisch put Topeka back out in front with the game-winner at 19:29 of the second period. On a 2-on-1 with defenseman Luc Salem, Zilisch opted to shoot and beat Randazzo cleanly with a wrist shot. 

In the third, the Pilots finished off the Jackalopes with a powerplay goal from defenseman Vincent Corcoran. Corcoran’s goal was his second goal of the weekend, as he snuck behind the Odessa defense and beat Randazzo on the backhand for a 3-1 lead.

Topeka now returns home for a four-game homestand, beginning with matchups on Dec. 6-7 against the Springfield Jr. Blues. Puck drop each night is at 7:05 p.m. at Landon Arena.