Pilots Struggle to Keep Up With Jr. Blues

The Topeka Pilots had a tough contest Friday night against the Springfield Jr. Blues.
Having trouble maintaining offensive pressure and overall intensity, Topeka (14-13-4) found themselves down 2-1 entering the third period.
The final 20 minutes, unfortunately, did not bode the Pilots well, as they fell 5-2 at Landon Arena.
After outshooting the Jr. Blues 16-4 in the second period through a strong forecheck, the Pilots could not replicate the performance in the final period, with Springfield outshooting Topeka 11-8.
“We’ve got to find a way,” Pilots head coach Simon Watson said. “There was a good spurt there in the second period and in the third period where we had chances, but we have to put it together.”
Down 4-1, forward Brendan Schultz tallied his sixth goal of the season at 16:06, giving the Pilots some momentum heading into the final minutes, as they trailed 4-2.
Forward Aaron Swanson, who had also two assists on the night, then finished off any chances at a comeback at 18:01, burying a rebound past goaltender McLean Dorr to make it 5-2.
The Pilots pulled Dorr in the final minute, with a powerplay making it a 6-on-4 man-advantage. They were unable to convert on the powerplay.
The contest started with Topeka struggling to connect passes and develop momentum. Springfield outshot their opponents 10-2 in the opening frame.
Of those 10 shots, Springfield garnered two goals, with forwards Nick Techel and Ben Schmidling scoring at 7:35 and 10:18 of the first to give the Jr. Blues a 2-0 advantage after 20 minutes.
Looking to bring his team to life, Topeka forward Quinn Green got the Pilots on the board at 12:21 of the second period. Green raced in on a breakaway and beat goaltender Jack Williams short-side low to make it 2-1.
The Jr. Blues then added to their lead at 1:36 of the third period and 15:30, making it 4-1, before Schultz’s market cut the lead to 4-2.
With an opportunity to build confidence and momentum going into the holiday break, Topeka will look to rebound Saturday night. The first 1,000 fans in attendance Saturday night will receive a free Pilots bomber hat. Popcorn, sodas and beer are all $2 for Saturday’s contest as well.