The RoadRunners move through the handshake line after falling to the Bulls in a hard fought Game 4 of the
South Division Finals.
The Topeka RoadRunners left it all out on the ice but came up short in a 3-1 loss to Amarillo, ending a season filled with injuries and adversity.
After Topeka posted a 6-3 come from behind win in Game 3, tensions were high in Game 4, the start of which was delayed 45 minutes due to severe weather and a tornado warning. The storm was brewing on the ice as well once play began. Midway through the still scoreless first period, the game’s first fight featured Gage Hough dropping the mitts with Bulls defenseman John Rey. As the fight concluded, over at the benches Amarillo’s Omar Mullan reached his stick around the glass and took a couple of pokes at the head of ‘Runners forward Richard Young. The unpenalized action prompted a heated exchange between the two head coaches who were both subsequently ejected from the game. Mullan was later penalized along with Young for 10 minute misconducts and upon arrival in the penalty box, he squirted water over the glass at fans, garnering an extra two minutes of penalty time. Though Amarillo killed off the penalty, Topeka scored the first goal of the game at 14:28 when Ryan White fired a high wristshot over the blocker of Gregg Gruehl and Topeka held a 1-0 lead at the end of the first period.
The second period was dominated by Topeka. Brian Christie forced an offensive zone turnover and fired a backhander that appeared to go in and out quickly under the crossbar but the goal light didn’t go on and play continued. The games second fight erupted when Jake Lynes and Brooks Behling dropped the mitts at 4:11. Topeka outshot the Bulls 14-4 in the second and still led 1-0 after 40 minutes.
The third period saw Amarillo start on the power play as Andrew O’Leary was penalized two minutes for roughing at the end of the second period when he shoved Brooks Behling who had just elbowed Mick Bruce to the head but with no call. The ‘Runners killed it off, continuing an impressive string of successful penalty kills after allowing 4 power play goals in Games 1 and 2. Behling continued his tactics, cutting hard to the net from the left wing and bulldozing goalie Peter Traber (again), this time whistled for charging. Topeka could not capitalize on the power play and Amarillo tied it up at 12:41 on a Mike Erickson goal from the left circle. T.J. Sarcona gave the Bulls the lead when he found a rebound to backhand home with 2:16 remaining. The RoadRunners pulled Traber for the extra skater and managed a couple of decent chances including a Ryan White shot that got through Gruehl but trickled just wide but the Bulls hit the empty net in the final second for the winning 3-1 margin. Amarillo advances to the Robertson Cup Tournament with play beginning Thursday. Fairbanks, Port Huron, and the host Texas Tornado will be there along with the Midwest and Central champs, yet to be decided.
The RoadRunners completed an impressive season against daunting odds. A season recap will be posted on the teams website soon at topekaroadrunners.com.