Timely goals were the difference in Friday night’s matchup between the Topeka RoadRunners and Springfield Jr. Blues
Trailing 2-1 entering the third period, Topeka (15-26-4) had a strong frame, tallying three goals, propelling them to a 4-3 victory over the Springfield Jr. Blues at Cedar Rapids Ice Arena.
“Our guys had a rough second period, and we bounced back there in the third,” RoadRunners head coach Josh Kamrass said.
Forward Nigel Nelson notched the game-winner at 13:27 of the third period, his sixth goal of the season. Defenseman Brendan Rons had the assist on Nelson’s goal.
“Nigel did a great job of driving the net on the play,” Kamrass said. “He just put it on net, and fortunately it went under the goalie.”
A late push by Springfield (19-20-2) sent goaltender Mike Robinson to the bench at 18:21 of the third, but Springfield could not find the equalizer with the late man-advantage.
Topeka forward Phil Erickson got the offense started after a scoreless first period, with a goal at 3:32 of the second period. Forward John Wojciechowski, in his first game with the Runners, tallied an assist on the play.
Wojciechowski began the season with the NAHL Central’s Austin Bruins, where he had one goal and 10 assists.
“John is a big body, and he skates really well,” Kamrass said. “With him having played a year in the USHL, he’s got some experience, and he adds a different element for us.”
Forward Matt Long’s 12th goal of the season pulled the Jr. Blues even at 8:28 of the frame, as his shot eluded goaltender Ryan Snowden.
Springfield would take its first and only lead of the contest at 12:31 of the second period, with forward Joseph Sardina making it 3-2, going into second intermission.
Forward Joey Moore opened the third period with his first goal of the season at 4:26, evening the game at two, with his shot beating Robinson. Forward Nick Granowicz notched his 16th assist of the season on the play. Defenseman Ryan Dickinson also added an assist.
“Seeing Joey come out and battle, I’m glad he got rewarded tonight,” Kamrass said.
Granowicz then tallied his fourth goal of the season just minutes later at 6:28, giving Topeka 3-2 edge.
Springfield defenseman Chase Mickelson tied the contest at 10:28, with his second goal of the season beating Snowden.
This set up Nelson’s game-winner, as the victory Topeka pulled even with Amarillo in the NAHL South standings.
Snowden stopped 19 of 22 shots on the night, for his seventh win of the season, as he is now 7-10-2 on the year. Robinson stopped 14 of 18 shots for the defeat.
Topeka will look to sweep the series Saturday. Puck drop is at 7:05 p.m at Cedar Rapids Ice Arena, where the Runners are currently playing for the first time.
“We really appreciate for the Cedar Rapids organization letting us use their facilities,” Kamrass said. “It’s been a great experience for all of us, and we’re very thankful for owner Tony Sdao taking care of our organization.”