The Topeka RoadRunners weathered the storm Friday night. Then they were dealt a miraculous ending.
In a twist of fate, they went from momentarily losing to winning the game in overtime.
Following what appeared to be a goal from forward Will Schlagenhauf, the Shreveport Mudbugs raced in on a 3-on-1 break, beating goaltender Ben Churchfield for the momentary game-winner. This sent the Shreveport players over the board to celebrate.
Schlagenhauf, meanwhile, skated right to referee JR Stragar. Stragar reviewed the play with goal judge Bruce Mason briefly and then signaled towards the Mudbugs’ net, giving Topeka a dramatic 3-2 victory in front of 1,220 fans at Landon Arena.
Topeka players then jumped onto the ice, celebrating a victory, after what was temporarily a defeat.
“I think that was the craziest sequence of events I’ve ever played in,” Schlagenhauf said. “I saw their guy sweep it out of the net, and as they were going the other way, I was saying in my head ‘that was a goal.’ When he pointed towards their net calling it a goal for us, I felt nothing but pure happiness.”
He stated he doesn’t believe any of his team has ever played to a conclusion quite like that.
“As we were talking in the room with the guys, I don’t think anyone has ever experienced anything similar,” Schlagenhauf said. “That was absolutely crazy.”
Even in a season with its frustrations, Topeka fought all of Friday’s game.
“This season has given us some tough breaks, but that’s what builds character,” RoadRunners coach Josh Kamrass said. “I’m really proud of our guys and how they battled tonight.”
After killing two Mudbugs’ powerplays, the Runners struck first Friday.
Forward Marshall Bowery bolted in on the right wing and snuck a shot past goaltender Dylan Lubbesmeyer, making it 1-0 Topeka at 15:05 of the first period. Bowery’s goal came on only the second Topeka shot of the frame.
Forward Cameron Cook struck back for Shreveport, Churchfield at 17:39, evening the game at one heading into first intermission.
Shreveport outshot the Runners 7-2 in the first period.
In the second period, Topeka held close with Shreveport, despite the Mudbugs again holding a huge shot differential of 17-6.
Forward Frankie Melton tipped in a nice pass from defenseman Dominick Procopio at the 10:45 mark of the period, giving Shreveport a 2-1 lead.
Despite struggling to generate offensive pressure, forward Alex Frye was credited with a game-tying goal at 18:02. A loose puck in the slot deflected off Mudbugs defenseman Croix Evingson and past Lubbesmeyer.
Mudbugs defenseman Jackson Hartje picked up a penalty for goalie interference at 19:06 of the second period, giving the Runners a minute and six seconds of powerplay time on fresh ice in the third period.
With several quality scoring chances, Topeka pushed for an early lead in the third period, but they could not beat Lubbesmeyer.
Churchfield also came up big in the third period, including an incredible sprawling glove save, denying a third Shreveport goal.
“Ben played great tonight,” Kamrass said. “He gave us a chance to win, and had probably one of the best saves of the year there in the third period.”
Late in the third, defenseman David Cyr was whistled for a tripping penalty, giving the Mudbugs a powerplay at the 19-minute mark.
Not able to solve Churchfield, the game went to overtime, locked at two.
In the overtime frame, Topeka killed the Shreveport powerplay before the eventual game-winner.
The teams now shift their attention to game two of the three-game series at 7:05 p.m. Saturday at Landon Arena.
Saturday is “Law & Order Night,” with $1 tickets available to police, courthouse personnel, first responders, lawyers and judges.