The season is officially half over as the ‘Runners played their 29th game of the 58 game season of Saturday night, winning handily 7-2 and thus completing a weekend sweep of the Owatonna Express.
Topeka had started slowly in the first period the prior two evenings, but were not guilty of the same on Saturday as the ‘Runners exploded for 4 first period goals while outshooting their guests 17-4. Tony Thomas scored the first two, his second two-goal effort in the series. The first came just 1:06 into the game, assisted by Bryce Johnson and Michael Hill, then his second came on the power play at 12:36, assisted by Martin Sundstedt and Hill. At 15:15, Kit Sitterley buried a bomb over the glove hand of Owatonna goalie Michael Webb, followed :15 seconds later by Kurtis Anton who scored his fourth goal of the year. That goal chased Webb who was playing in his first Junior A game, relieved by Mike Shibrowski who had performed well in the prior two games. It was still 4-0 when the horn sounded the end of the opening frame.
In the second, it wasn\’t until the 14:00 mark before the ‘Runners found the net again, as Nate Milam launched a heavy shot that spun right out of Shibrowski\’s catching glove and in across the line for a 5-0 lead. Zach Vierling got Owatonna on the board 1:18 later with a crisp wrist shot low on the blocker side of Cooper Frederick to make it 5-1, but Topeka answered back when Kevin Ryan blasted a slapper upstairs on the power play at 17:53. Topeka led 6-1 after 2.
In the third period, Owatonna struck again as Zach Vierling scored again at 12:43, but the ‘Runners again had an answer as Alec Hagaman smacked home a power play goal at 15:46, providing the final margin of 7-2 for the ‘Runners. Topeka outshot Owatonna 38-18 in the game.
Topeka (21-5-3) will host the Texas Tornado (14-12-2) on Friday and Saturday Dec. 18 and 19, the final games before the Christmas break. Texas split two games at home with Wichita Falls over the weekend.