What a RoadRunner fan takes from Friday nights 4-3 shootout loss in Springfield, IL to the Junior Blues depends on if they have a glass \”half-full\” or \”half-empty\” way of looking at things. The half full crowd will take it as a good thing, to get a point on the road in a game Topeka trailed 2-1 with under 4 minutes to go. But to those members of RoadRunner Nation in attendance couldn\’t help but feel the half-empty approach as Topeka had rallied with 2 goals to take a 3-2 lead only to surrender a game-tying goal with less than 5 seconds to go in regulation, forcing the overtime and the eventual shootout win for Springfield.
After a brisk but scoreless first period, Topeka scored first on the powerplay, set up by a feed from Ryan White at the top of the left circle down low to Alec Hagaman who one touched a pass in front for Patrick Kirtland who proceeded to net his second of the season at 11:33 of the second period. Jared Rickord evened it up at 14:08 on a 5-on-3 powerplay goal executed with some crisp passing. Moments later, a seemingly harmless T.J. Poganski shot from the right point deflected off a skate and over to the weak side where Kevin O\’Donnell popped it in for a 2-1 lead at 15:46. The 2-1 lead still stood heading into the final 5 minutes of the third period.
With the ‘Runners on a power play and time starting to run low, Bryce Johnson controlled the puck on the left wing wall in the Jr. Blues zone. He fed it up top for Kevin Ryan who launched a hard shot that Springfield netminder C.J. Groh made a pad save on, but Cole Schneider backhanded in the rebound to tie the game at 2-2 with 3:44 to play.
With 37.9 seconds left in the game and an offensive zone faceoff pending, Topeka took a time out, and within seconds after the ensuing draw, Jacob Poe buried a slapshot from the right point, picking the top corner on the glove side for a 3-2 lead that gave a euphoric lift to the ‘Runners bench. The buzz was killed with 4.6 seconds left Jr. Blues defenseman T.J. Poganski slipped a seeing eye shot through traffic to tie the game. Each side managed 2 shots on goal in the overtime before heading into a shootout.
For Springfield, it was their first shootout of the season, and Topeka was 1-1 in two prior occasions. On this night, four Topeka shooters failed to score, while Springfield scored two of their first three attempts to steal the win, improving to 6-4-2 on the year and pulling within 2 points of Topeka and St. Louis, who are tied atop the NAHL South with 16 points apiece.
Topeka (7-2-2) wraps up the 4-game road trip Saturday night in Springfield. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN 1490 KTOP in Topeka.