After dropping the series opener on Friday night 4-1 on home ice, the Topeka RoadRunners rose from the mat to dominate the Springfield Jr. Blues in a 7-2 win on Saturday to even the series at a game apiece.
In the first period, Topeka came out with the intensity you might expect from a number one seed who had been shown up on home ice the night before. For the first several minutes, the puck was constantly in the Jr. Blues zone with the exception of an icing call. When the dust settled, Topeka had outshot their guests 27-6 and led 3-1. The first goal was a blast from the right point by Jeff Burke through traffic at the 2:38 mark. Springfield tied it up quickly, though, as Jared Rickord knocked in his second of the series just :25 seconds later. Topeka retook the lead at 7:07 when Michael Hill pounced on a Jr. Blues turnover and blistered a shot high on the glove side of Andrew Martin for the 2-1 lead. Justin Kovacs added to the lead at 12:20 when he followed a Michael Hill rebound off a pass that Kovacs initiated.
The second period featured more of the same as the \’Runners doubled their lead. Edgars Lipsbergs dangled through the Springfield defense, dancing out of the left wing corner before rifling a shot high glove side for a 4-1 lead at 3:56. The roar had not yet subsided when Kevin Ryan made it 5-1 just :24 seconds later with a screen shot from the right point. Springfield got a break when a RoadRunner defenseman lost and edge allowing Ross Anderson to come in alone on Eric Rohrkemper and he buried the chance at 5:17 to make it 5-2. Topeka regained the momentum at 9:14 when Bryce Johnson smoked a slapshot past Martin on a nice feed from Alec Hagaman set up by a clearing feed feed from Chris Bond. The \’Runners were hitting on all cylinders, outshooting Springfield 40-13 and leading 6-2 after two periods of play.
Heading into the third period, one might have expected Topeka to sit back and protect their lead. Instead, they put another 20 shots on Andrew Martin while allowing just 5. The only goal came when Cole Schneider picked the top blocker side corner while racing down the left wing in the final minute of play for the final 7-2 margin. Seven different players lit the lamp for Topeka.
With the series even at a game apiece, the teams will meet for Games 3 and 4 next weekend in Springfield, IL at the Nelson Center. The RoadRunners were 4-1-1 against the Jr. Blues in their building this season.