Earning a split in Lone Star in the opening weekend gave Topeka home ice advantage in the series, and they made the most of it Friday night, rolling to a 5-2 win to take a 2 games to 1 lead in the best-of-five Division Semi-Final series.
For the first time in the series, Topeka got on the board first. An aggressive forecheck by Sami Tavernier and Andrew Hart helped set up Quinn Preston, who slid the puck under the pads of Corbin Kaczperski for the 1-0 lead at 6:11 of the opening period. The ‘Runners doubled their lead on a slick goal by Yu Hikosaka, set up on a nice rush with Marshall Bowery and Johnny Walker at 19:14. Topeka led 2-0 at the end of 1.
In the second period, a Ryan O’Connor power play goal at 4:41, assisted by Walker and Tavernier put Topeka up 3-0 and clearly in the drivers seat. Lone Star caught a spark, though, with Topeka short handed after a too many men on the ice penalty, Peter Kessel had an errant shot deflect off a ‘Runner defender into the net and the Brahmas were on the board with their first power play goal in eight attempts. Thirty seconds later, Tyler Drevitch won a loose puck battle at the side of the Topeka net and jammed it in and suddenly, Topeka’s lead was trimmed to 3-2, and it stayed that way at the end of the second.
Lone Star began the final period on the power play but the RoadRunners killed it off. The game was chippy and rough but almost nothing was being called as the officials opted to let the players battle it out. Topeka got some breathing room at 12:48 when Johnny Walker ripped a shot past the blocker of Kaczperski for a 4-2 lead. The Brahmas pulled the goalie for the extra attacker, and used their time out but JB Baker buried an empty netter at 19:17 to seal the 5-2 win. Juho Niku stopped 23 shots to secure the win.
Topeka will have a chance to close out the series on Saturday at 7:05 pm in Landon Arena. If a Game 5 is required, it will be played Monday night at Lone Star. Saturday’s game will be streamed live online with FASTHockey.com and broadcast in the arena at 88.9 FM.