In a highly anticipated clash of NAHL South Division powerhouses, it was the visiting Topeka RoadRunners who emerged victorious by a score of 3-1 in a brisk-paced, highly entertaining contest.
The first period featured end to end play with crisp passing, hard hits and solid goaltending at each end. With only one penalty and few whistles, the scoreless first period whisked by quickly with Topeka and St. Louis each launching eight shots. The battle wore on, continuing scoreless through most of the second period, though St. Louis clearly had the edge in opportunites as they had back to back 5-on-3 power plays and 5 power plays in the second period alone. The RoadRunners penalty kill was flawless, and still managed to keep shots on goal even at 10 apiece in the frame. After 37:37 of scoreless hockey, and at even strength, St. Louis got on the board first when Grant Gettinger knocked in a crossing pass for a 1-0 Bandit lead. Topeka, however, responded quickly as just :16 seconds later, Alec Hagaman buried his 8th goal of the season through the 5-hole to tie the game at 1-1, and the second period ended with the teams still tied.
In the third period, trying to make something of their seventh power play of the game, St. Louis turned the puck over and Topeka\’s Bryce Johnson raced into the Bandit zone, going to the backhand and beating Garrett Bartus up high for a short-handed tally that put the ‘Runners up 2-1 with 11:27 to go. \”That goal deflated the Bandits and the crowd\”, said Topeka assistant coach R.J. Enga. \”In a game like that, every goal is huge, and giving up a shorty really hurts.\” The ‘Runners didn\’t sit back on their lead, they continued to press and outshot St. Louis in the final period 10-8, sealing the victory with an empty net tally by Martin Sundstedt with :30 to go, giving Topeka the 3-1 win and a 3-point lead in the South. Garrett Bartus turned aside 25 RoadRunner shots, including a few quality glove saves including a stop on an Erik Higby breakaway, but the save of the game came with :45 seconds left in the game when RoadRunner netminder Cooper Frederick stole what appeared to be a game-tying goal from the top corner. Frederick turned aside a total of 25 Bandits shots en route to posting his fourth win of the season.
Topeka (12-2-2) and St. Louis (11-2-1) meet again Saturday afternoon at 2:00 pm in a Halloween matinee. Topeka has opened up a three point lead over St. Louis, though the Bandits still have 2 games in hand.
· Cole Schneider saw his point streak snapped at 9 games, during which he posted 8 goals and 6 assists.
· The RoadRunners remain undefeated in regulation in October, going 8-0-2.
· Cooper Frederick won his 4th game, equally his win total of all of 2008-09, where he went 4-0-1.
· Kit Sitterley played in his first game for the RoadRunners. He comes to Topeka from Omaha (USHL).