On a night the RoadRunners planned to honor the memory of Peter Halash with the annual Teddy Bear Toss, Topeka never led in the game until the game winner was scored in the final seconds, giving the 'Runners a 4-3 win over Wenatchee as 2,821 fans cheered.
Hundreds of stuffed animals and teddy bears sat patiently awaiting their call to service through the first period of play. The closest opportunity came on a Jasen Fernsler shot that caught the post on a 2-on-1 break but the briskly paced game was scoreless and penalty free through the opening period.
In the second period, it was Wenatchee who scored first, when Brendan Harris fired home a low power play shot from the blue line at 4:58. Former RoadRunner David Powlowski made it 2-0 on a fluttering shot from the center hashmarks at 12:24 and the Wild were swarming, outshooting the 'Runners 16-5 in the period. The aforementioned teddy bears took flight at the 17:00 mark, though, as Willie Brown slipped a pass from below the goal line to Sam Rennaker in the right circle that he fired up high to "make it rain bears". There was a pause in the game as players and staff quickly gathered the offerings for donation to the Topeka Rescue Mission. The Wild lead stood at 2-1 after the second period.
In the third, Topeka went on their only power play of the game just :30 seconds in. Half a minute later at 1:02, Daniel Brickley ripped a shot from the blue line past the Wild goalie to tie the game at 2-2, assisted by Fernsler. Wenatchee retook the lead at 16:29 on a nice backhand by Jake Ahlgren, but rather than deflate, the RoadRunners ramped up the energy and Fernsler fired home a crisp one-timer that was touched by every teammate on the ice on the way up the ice. Shawn Brennan moved it from behind his net to Ryan Polin in the defensive zone, Polin, moved it up through center, where Cam Strong guided it to Carlos Fornaris on the right wing. Fornaris dished to Fernsler streaking up the middle and his one-timer beat goalie Zach Quinn low on the blocker side to tie the game at 3-3 as the crowd roared with 1:58 left to play. The game winner came in the final seconds as Wenatchee tried to clear the zone by wrapping it around the boards, but Shawn Brennan picked it off and fired toward the net and Tyler Irvine tipped it over the goalies blocker with 7.5 seconds left in regulation and the 'Runners had the lead for the first time in the game. The 4-3 lead stood as the final horn sounded, propelling Topeka to 6-1-1 on their current 14-game home stand, and 12-1-1 in Landon Arena this season.
Topeka (21-6-3) and Wenatchee (12-12-5) wrap up their weekend series Sunday at 6:05 pm in Landon Arena. The game will conclude a six-game weekend following the Capitals series finale against the Texas Junior Brahmas at 11am. The Runners will take next weekend off before returning to action on December 27th against the Wichita Falls Wildcats. For more information on tickets, call 785-286-PUCK or visit the Expocentre Box Office.