Showing no rust with a quick turnaround from a short holiday break, the Topeka Pilots kept on rolling on Friday night.
Jumping out to an early 4-0 lead, Topeka (20-10-3) battled through a valiant comeback effort by the Shreveport Mudbugs, holding on to win 5-3 at George’s Pond Hirsch Coliseum.
The win puts Topeka three points head of Shreveport (20-10-0) in the NAHL South Division, with the teams holding down the third and fourth place spots in the division, respectively.
Topeka got two tallies from forward Michael Muschitiello, his seventh and eighth goals of the season, to pace the Pilots.
Muschitiello scored a timely goal early in the third to put the Pilots up 5-2, after the Mudbugs scored consecutive goals to make it 4-2 in the midway point of the second period.
Pilots goaltender Guy Blessing had the victory in Friday’s contest, stopping 28 of 31 shots to improve to 8-7-1 on the season.
Mudbugs goaltender Maiszon Balboa was chased after 22:38 in net, as he picked up the loss to go to 10-6-0 on the season.
Topeka wasted no time getting on the board, with defenseman Luc Salem continuing his strong offensive season at 3:02 of the first. Salem now has six tallies on the season to lead all Pilots defensemen.
Forward Shawn Kennedy scored his seventh of the season at 14:25, extending the lead to 2-0.
Muschitiello made a great individual effort, getting around the Shreveport defense and beating Balboa for a 3-0 lead at 1:08 of the second.
Not even two minutes later, it was 4-0, as forward Lucas Sandoval netted his second of the season, putting the lead at 4-0.
Trying to continue the momentum they created in Friday’s effort, the Pilots will be back in action on Saturday night, with an opportunity for a series sweep.