Losing Game 1 at home for the second series in a row did not sit well with anyone in the RoadRunners locker room. As they did in the Semi-Finals against Springfield, Topeka bounced back with a resounding win to even the best-of-five series at 1-1.
St. Louis scored on their first shot of the game on a 2-on-1 break with Chris Ciotti picking the high glove side corner at 4:16. The \’Runners answered quickly though as Justin Kovacs buried his 3rd of the playoffs at5:57 to tie the game. Topeka grabbed a 2-1 lead when Michael Hill blasted a power play goal past Tyler Bruggeman at 14:54. Bryce Johnson padded the lead at 19:25, swatting home a nice feed from Cole Schneider for a 3-1 RoadRunner advantage. At one point, the \’Runners had been outshot 8-3 but finished the period up 11-9 in that category.
The second period was a tight checking and chippy affair, the only goal coming at the 17:00 minute mark as Cole Schneider drove home his league leading 7th playoff goal, assisted by Kevin Ryan and Chris Bond.
Riding a 4-1 lead into the third, Topeka refused to go into a shell and try to protect the lead. The Bandits brought in C.J. Groh to relieve Bruggeman at the start of the period, and the \’Runners got one by him at 8:51, a power play goal by Bryce Johnson, his second of the night. St. Louis added a power play goal of their own at 12:52, a Ryan Stouffer shot from the right point to make it 5-2, but Topeka capped off the evening with a 5-on-3 power play goal at 14:14, scored by Edgars Lipsbergs. The Bandits, who had been very successful in getting under the \’Runners skin in Game 1, seemed to lose composure as the game went on, as the RoadRunners even the series at a game apiece, and heading into St. Louis where Topeka won 3 out of 5 in the regular season.
Games 3 and 4 will be played Friday and Saturday, April 23 and 24 at the Hardee\’s Iceplex in Chesterfield, MO. If necessary, Game 5 will be played in Topeka on Monday April 26. The winner of the South Division Finals will travel to Wenatchee, WA for the Robertson Cup Tournament May 4-9.