Pilots pick up point, fall in shootout 3-2

The Topeka Pilots went down to the wire with the Lone Star Brahmas Saturday night at the NYTEX Sports Center. 

Tied at two, Topeka took to the powerplay in the final minute of regulation after a late penalty. 

And with a minute and 11 seconds of powerplay time carrying to overtime, the Pilots looked to take advantage. 

Neither team, however, could capitalize in the extra session, sending the game to a shootout, still knotted at two. 

In the shootout, forward Andrew DeCarlo had the sole tally, beating goaltender Emil Gransoe low on the blocker side with a quick wrist shot, giving the Brahmas a hard-fought 3-2 victory.  

Forwards Austin McCarthy, Valdemar Ahlberg and Quinn Green were all stopped in the shootout by goaltender Harrison Feeney. 

Before getting to the shootout, the game was tied 1-1 after two, and Topeka came out hungry in the third period. 

McCarthy had a great look for the Pilots around the eight-minute mark, taking a feed from forward Brendan Schultz on a 2-on-1 break, but Feeney read the play well to make the save, sliding across the crease. 

Despite the disparity in play, defenseman Josh Martin broke the tie at 9:35 of the frame, firing a shot from the right point and beating Gransoe. Gransoe was screened on the play and did not get a clean read on the shot. 

Minutes later, forward Quinn Green picked up his team leading 14th goal of the season. At 12:12, Green and McCarthy skated in another 2-on-1, and Green’s wrist shot zoomed past Feeney’s glove, tying the contest at two and sending the game to overtime. 

The game opened with two early penalties assessed to the Pilots, but Topeka held strong, killing off both infractions. Lone Star had several good chances on the man-advantages. 

Wanting to take away the early Brahmas momentum, the Pilots struck first at 17:19 of the first period, with forward Valdemar Ahlberg scoring his ninth of the season. On the play, forward Michael Muschitiello took advantage of a Brahmas turnover and fed the puck to Ahlberg, who beat Feeney blocker-side. 

Ahlberg also had the Pilots opening goal in Friday night’s affair and has six points in his last five games. 

The goal came ten seconds into the Pilots first powerplay of the contest, after Feeney was booked for slashing Pilots forward Eric Brown. 

The two teams went to the first intermission deadlocked in shots on goal, as they also were on Friday night. Both teams tallied nine shots in the opening 20 minutes. 

Lone Star had several great chances in the early minutes of the second period. The best chance came off the stick of forward Vadim Kiryakov, who narrowly missed a gaping net, hitting the side post as Gransoe found himself caught out of position. 

Piling on the pressure, Lone Star broke through on their fourth powerplay at 11:47 of the second period, evening the game at one. Forward Frank Trazzera was credited with the goal, his sixth of the season. Trazzera followed up on a rebound and flipped the puck past Gransoe. 

The shots on goal after two frames favored the Brahmas, with Lone Star outshooting Topeka 11-6 in the middle period. 

Topeka returns home next weekend, with three-game set against the Odessa Jackalopes January 18-20 at the Kansas Expocentre.