Discipline and defense helped the Topeka RoadRunners knock off a arduous foe on Friday night.
Facing the NAHL South-leading Shreveport Mudbugs, Topeka (3-4-0) jumped out to a 3-0 lead and played stout defense in the final minutes to preserve a 3-2 lead, winning by that score at Landon Arena.
Forward Nigel Nelson notched a goal and an assist in the contest, including the game-winning goal in the second period.
He and his teammates defended RoadRunners goaltender Emil Gransoe in the final minutes, lying down to block shots when it got tense in the waning moments.
“Emil played a hell of a game tonight,” Nelson said. “We were all looking to block a shot for him and make his job as easy as possible.”
At 7:51 of the first period, forward Nick Granowicz tallied his fourth goal of the season, beating goaltender Gustavs Grigals for a 1-0 lead.
Topeka played a smart and defensive minded first period Friday, limiting Shreveport (5-2-0) to only four shots on goal in the opening frame.
“Shreveport attacked, but we fought right back,” RoadRunners head coach Josh Kamrass said. “Our goal for this season has been to be a strong solid defensive team, and I thought for the most part, we executed that tonight.”
Forward Adrian Elefalk tallied his first goal of the season at the 6:28 mark of the second period, giving the Runners a 2-0 lead.
During the frame, play also got a little chippy, with Shreveport defenseman Alex Spencer and Topeka defenseman Cam Kuhl each dropping the gloves at the 13:46 mark. This fired up the fans, including the members of the Party Zone, where KSNT news was on hand for KSNT and KTMJ night.
Nelson beat Grigals for a 3-0 lead at 17:31 of the second, giving Topeka a little extra breathing room going into the third.
Shreveport came out firing in the third, opening the scoring at 2:54, with a goal from defenseman Jack Clement after an ill-advised line change by the Runners.
Shortly thereafter, at 8:16, Brendan VanSweden brought it to a one-goal game at 3-2, but the Mudbugs would not get any closer.
The two teams will tangle again on Saturday, which will be College Night at Landon Arena. All college students can receive a $5 ticket with a student ID at the box office.
“We know that Shreveport is going to come out hard Saturday, but we’re ready,” Kamrass said. “I think this will be a great challenge for our team.”