Pilots rally to sweep Jr. Blues with 6-3 victory

Trailing 3-1 in the second period, the Topeka Pilots needed a spark on Saturday night. 

Five unanswered goals did the trick. 

Topeka (17-9-2) grabbed momentum after a quick response to a Springfield Jr. Blues goal and rolled from there, rattling off five combined goals in the second and third periods to finish off a 6-3 victory over the Jr. Blues at Landon Arena. 

The win gave the Pilots a home series sweep, as they have now won four straight games, staying in third place in the NAHL South Division. It was the Pilots first home series sweep in franchise history. 

The game-winning goal came off the stick of forward Shawn Kennedy at 12:40 of the third period, scoring a powerplay goal after several penalties gave the Pilots a 5-on-3 advantage. 

After taking a 4-3 lead, Topeka did not stop there. While shorthanded, forward Michael Muschitiello netted a goal on a breakaway at 17:21 of the third, beating goaltender Ryan Wilson on the stick side. It was his second goal of the night and sixth of the season. 

Then, an empty net goal from forward Kaiden Scott officially put the Pilots in the driver’s seat at 18:11, making it 6-3. 

Down 3-1, forward Seth Benson brought the Pilots to a one-goal deficit at 5:36, just over a minute after Topeka went down 3-1. It was his first tally of the season. 

Forward Quinn Green equalized it at 3-3 at the 16-minute mark of the second period, as his one-timer beat Wilson. It was one of three powerplays goals on the night for the Pilots. 

Muschitiello opened the scoring with a powerplay goal, beating Wilson from the left faceoff circle at 7:48 of the first, giving Topeka a 1-0 lead. 

Two Jr. Blues goals late in the first made it 2-1 into the first intermission. 

Pilots goaltender Josh Langford got his first start at home, improving to 2-0-0 since being traded from the New Mexico Ice Wolves. He stopped 19 of 22 shots on goal. Wilson stopped 20 of 25 shots in the loss. 

The Pilots continue their home stand Dec. 13-14 at Landon Arena, as the Pilots face the Odessa Jackalopes. The Dec. 14 game will include the annual teddy bear toss, with new or gently used teddy bears thrown out on the ice after the first Pilots goal, with all stuffed animals going to local charities.