When the Topeka Pilots hit the ice on this weekend against the Lone Star Brahmas, it will be for the last regular season home series of the 2018-2019 campaign.
There will also be a huge four points on the line, for a Topeka team fighting for a playoff berth.
Topeka (22-26-8) is coming off a 2-1-0 series with the Odessa Jackalopes last weekend, pulling the Pilots to within three points of the Corpus Christi IceRays for the fourth and final playoff spot in the NAHL South Division. The Pilots are now 5-4-1 in their last 10 games.
This weekend’s opponent, Lone Star (28-21-7), is coming off being swept by the division-leading Amarillo Bulls. They are 6-3-1 in their last 10.
The series will Topeka’s first home games since March 9, when they dramatically knocked off Corpus Christi 8-7 in overtime. Topeka has gone 3-1-1 since.
“The guys are looking forward to being back on home ice after being on the road the last couple of weeks,” Pilots associate head coach Justin DeMartino said. “And we know how much is on the line. We’ve really put our best foot forward recently and realized every game is a step in us fighting for our playoff lives.”
In the last head-to-head contest between the Pilots and Brahmas on Feb. 16, Topeka forward Quinn Green gave the Pilots a 3-2 overtime victory with a great slapshot from the slot.
Green leads the Pilots with 24 goals and 37 points on the season.
DeMartino said he expects tight contests with the Brahmas each night, with Lone Star not scoring in large quantities but also not giving up a vast amount of goals.
“Our goal this weekend will be to stay out of the penalty box and play disciplined,” DeMartino said. “When we do have our chances, we’re going to have to capitalize on them. We’re probably not going to get a ton of grade-A chances, so we are going to be crashing the net and looking for rebounds.”
And for new or casual fans coming out this weekend, there will be plenty of deals with $10 any seat tickets, 25 percent off merchandise, $2 beer and soda, $2 hotdogs Friday and $2 popcorn Saturday. Tickets are still available for both nights.
“These are meaningful hockey games, and we hope to have the crowd behind us all weekend,” DeMartino said. “It’s huge to have momentum on our side, and we’re excited for the opportunity.”