Pilots score six, sweep Jackalopes with 6-1 victory

The Topeka Pilots never trailed on Saturday night. 

With two tallies in the first period and another four goals in a strong second period, Topeka (25-10-3) had control of the game from the get go. 

And with 53 shots on goal in the contest, the Pilots created plenty of chances, as they knocked off the Odessa Jackalopes 6-1 at Landon Arena, for a series sweep. 

“We got into the tough areas tonight and went hard after pucks,” Pilots head coach Simon Watson said. “It was a solid effort out of our guys.” 

Topeka had six different goal scorers on Saturday night, taking pressure off of the Pilots top line. 

“The balanced scoring tonight will also help us make a push towards the playoffs, as we head into the last quarter of the season,” Watson said. 

On Throwback Night at the rink, players donned throwback uniforms and fans dressed in their best 70’s, 80’s and 90’s attire. 

Fans were given an opportunity to cheer in the first period, with Topeka peppering goaltender Zach Stern with 23 shots on goal in a busy 20 minutes. 

After multiple close calls, Topeka got on the board at 18:38 of the first period, with their fifth shorthanded goal of the year. Forward Quinn Green skated in on a 3-on-1 break for Topeka and beat Stern low on the stick side. 

Then, just over a minute later, Pilots forward and captain Austin McCarthy got into the action, with his 13th of the season. A shot from the point from defenseman John Gormley deflected off of McCarthy and rolled past Stern, to give the Pilots a 2-0 lead at first intermission. 

As aforementioned, Topeka then exploded for four more goals in the second period, with three of them coming in the first 10 minutes of the period. 

“It was a good second period,” Watson said. “I think we played one of our better periods we’ve had in recent memory, which really helped us set up to be in control entering the third.” 

Forwards Michael Muschitiello, Shane Hathaway, Nick Nardecchia, and Shawn Kennedy all had tallies in the second for the Pilots, pushing their lead from 2-0 to 6-0 entering the final period. 

Goaltender Josh Langford’s shutout bid was spoiled at 4:35 of the third, but he was strong in net on the evening, stopping 28 of 29 shots on goal. With the victory, Langford improves to 6-0-1 since joining Topeka. 

The Pilots now move to one point from the third place spot in the NAHL South Division. Topeka will be back in action on Jan. 24-25, as they take on the Springfield Jr. Blues at Landon Arena.