The RoadRunners flew to Wenatchee over the weekend and earned five out of six points while clinching a postseason berth. The RoadRunners continue their streak of nine consecuitive postseason appearances.
It all began Thursday night. A bus trip followed by a plane ride and another bus led to the seventh meeting between the Runners and the Wild. Topeka jumped on the board with a quickness as Sly Sutter, who was playing in his 100th game as a Runner, banged home the first score of the series at 1:47 of the first (assisted by JB Baker and Sam Rennaker). Following a Chris Jones holding penalty later in the period, Tyler Irvine added a power play goal (assisted by Ryan Polin and Carlos Fornaris at 11:56) to make it 2-0 heading into the middle frame. Wenatchee would cut the lead in half within the first minute of the second period but it would not be enough. Aided by the defense, goaltender Matej Tomek would stop the next twenty shots on goal (30 of 31 overall) for his 21st win of the season. The victory also secured Topeka a spot in the South Division Playoffs.
Friday night, the Runners stuck with the same script by taking a 2-0 lead. This time it was Shawn Brennan (assisted Dominic Lutz and Tyler Irvine at 7:18 of the first period) and Mike Gornall (assisted by Lutz and Polin at 5:06 of the second period) who vaulted Topeka on top. The Wild countered with a score of their own to close the second but Yu Hikosaka responded at 4:38 of the third (assisted by Daniel Brickley) to restore the two goal edge. Former Runner David Powlowski narrowed it back to one at 6:14 but the Runners held on to win 3-2. Goalie Drew Vogler was outstanding in net, defending 37 of 39 shots for his 12th win of the season.
The final game of the series on Saturday was Wenatchee's half of the two team's home-and-away Star Wars Night. This time, the Runners wore the special Stormtrooper jerseys with the Wild donning the Jedi Robe jerseys. This time, it was Wenatchee who burst out to a 2-0 lead in the first on goals by Brendan Harris and Mike Coyne. But Topeka would not go quietly. The Stormtroopers tallied three goals in just over four minutes to take a 3-2 lead heading into the second period. Sam Rennaker nailed the first on a power play assisted by Jasen Fernsler at 10:04. Yu Hikosaka tied the game with an unassisted netter at 11:21 and Ryan O'Connor finisher the assault at 13:20 with assists by Sutter and Rennaker. The Jedi tied the game back up in the second and neither team was able to break ahead after that, leading to a scoreless overtime and a deciding shootout. Wenatchee won the contest with the only successful attempt for either team coming in their third oportunity. The win was only Wenatchee's second in the now nine-game season series wher Topeka leads 7-1-1.
The Runners conclude this seven-game road trip this weekend at second place Lone Star. Fans can see all the action at the Away Game Viewing Parties this Friday and Saturday night. The team returns to Landon Arena next weekend to take on the Wichita Falls Wildcats. February 28th will be Hockey & Heels Night at Landon Arena, an exciting night of activities and events of the ladies of Runner Nation. For more information on how to sign up for Hockey & Heels, call 785-286-PUCK.