Topeka Pilots goaltender Jakub Dobes stood tall in his first game in a Pilots uniform this season.
At 6 feet, 3 inches, Dobes was a difference maker Monday night, stopping 41 of 43 shots on goal, as Topeka defeated the Amarillo Bulls 3-2 at the Stormont Vail Events Center.
Forward Quinn Green put the Pilots up 3-1 with just over nine minutes to play, before Amarillo (0-1-0) cut it to 3-2 at 17:49.
With the Bulls pulling the goalie for a sixth attacker, Dobes and his teammates kept Amarillo at bay, preserving the 3-2 score line to the final whistle.
“Jakub is a game-changer,” Pilots coach Simon Watson said. “He’s going to be sought after at the next level. He comes in and works hard every day. It’s fun to watch him.”
Topeka (2-0-1) struggled early against Amarillo’s press style defense, mustering only four shots in the first period.
Dobes kept the Pilots in the game in the first, stopping 15 of 16 shots faced.
“After the first, we talked about believing in each other and that the answers were in the room,” Watson said. “I’m happy with how we responded. I thought our second period was our best period all season so far.”
After a defensive mishap from the Bulls’ defensive unit, forward Michael Muschitiello raced in on a breakaway early in the second period. Firing a shot five-hole, Muschitiello’s shot trickled past goaltender Charlie Glocker to tie the contest at one.
With a revived sense of confidence, Topeka took its first lead of the night at 15:06 of the second period. Forward Austin McCarthy banged home the rebound on the play, knocking a shot from forward Connor Zilisch past Glocker, making it 2-1.
The lead stood into the second intermission, with the Pilots outshooting the Bulls 16-10 in the middle frame.
Needing some insurance, Green took a rebound and rammed it past Glocker at 10:57, putting the Pilots up 3-1.
Topeka now heads to Blaine, Minn. for the annual NAHL Showcase. The Pilots open the tournament at 10 a.m. on Wednesday morning against the Minnesota Wilderness.