The Topeka RoadRunners moved into first place in the NAHL South Division on Friday night with a 5-2 win on the road in Wichita Falls.
The Wildcats, who had lost three straight coming in to Friday\’s contest, got on the board early when leading scorer Brian Sheehan tallied just 1:42 into the first period. The Wildcats early surge stalled, and the ‘Runners tied it up during a 4-on-4 situation when Tony Thomas took a Jacob Poe pass that created a 2-on-1 break and slid it across to Nate Milam, who blistered a shot over the glove hand of netminder Phillip Graveline at 13:38. The game remained tied at 1-1 after 1 with Topeka outshooting their hosts 14-9.
In the second period, the ‘Runners dominated from the drop of the puck, peppering Wichita Falls with 19 shots and allowing just 7, most of which came in the final minutes. A couple of powerplay goals gave Topeka a lead they would not relinquish, the first scored by Erik Higby on a snappy one-timer set up by Cole Schneider at 10:23, the next one coming on a 5-on-3 power play as Ryan White took a defender wide and smoked a heavy wrister past Graveline from the top of the circles for a 3-1 lead. Team captain Kurtis Anton dropped the gloves for the third game in a row, this time with Wildcat heavyweight Anthony Iaquinto. In a battle between two renowned brawlers, both sides landed some solid punches and even partisan viewers scored it a virtual draw. Anton\’s jersey was torn badly and he wore #3 the rest of the night. Cole Schneider scored at 17:52 assisted by Chris Bond prompting a Wildcat goaltending switch and Topeka led 4-1 after 2. Schneider has scored a goal in each of his four games since joining the RoadRunners.
In the third period, the ‘Cats came out with renewed vigor and cut the lead to 4-2 on Brian Sheehan\’s second goal of the game at 6:49, but Nate Milam secured the win as his snapshot from just inside the blueline beat Brian Phillips low on his blocker side at 16:07 and the ‘Runners finish with a 5-2 win, their fourth consecutive win. Evan Karambelas posted 27 saves in the win and was awarded third star.
Topeka (6-2-1) moved into first place with the win as St. Louis was defeated by Texas 3-1. The ‘Runners and ‘Cats complete the two-game series on Saturday night at the Kay Yeager Coliseum in Wichita Falls.