The Cardiac Kids Complete The Comeback 3-2
The RoadRunners (13-2-2) shrugged off a nine hour bus ride, a banged up goaltender and a late third period deficit to overcome the Bulls (10-1-3) in a shootout 3-2. As this is becoming a habit, Topeka fans with heart conditions are advised to have EMTs standing by as they wait for their team’s inevitable late game heroics.
Amarillo wasted little time in denting the scoreboard as TJ Sarcona put the Bulls in front with a goal at 3:38 in the first period. Topeka would respond at 14:44 with a goal by Kyle Sharkey, tying the game 1-1 going into the first intermission.
Neither team was able to break ahead in the second, which is not to say that the period was uneventful. Newly acquired Peter Halash, playing his first game for the RoadRunners, was ejected following a rain of gloves and fists at 11:26. Then Spencer Viele was shaken up after taking a hard charge while covering the puck. The referees somehow missed the penalty but play was halted for several minutes as Viele gathered his wits.
The game remained tied until 5:15 in the third when Omar Mullan managed to find the net. Down 2-1, the pressure began to mount for Topeka. Of particular note, the RoadRunners were only able to manage three shots on goal in the third period. Turns out they only needed one.
With less than a minute remaining in regulation, Coach Langer pulled Viele in favor of an extra attacker and it paid off. RoadRunners leading scorer, Sean Gaffney, flipped the puck past Paul Berrafato to tie the game and send it into overtime.
“I thought the team played a very patient road game against a very good opponent,” said Head Coach Scott Langer. “Spencer was sharp the entire night, didn’t let the second goal get him down, was ran into in the second period and shook it off to grit out the two points.”
And grit the two pints out, he did. Viele and the rest of the defense stood strong through the sudden death overtime leading to the dreaded shootout. Prior to Friday night, the RoadRunners held a 1-2 record in shootouts for the season with their only win coming last weekend at Odessa.
The goaltenders turned aside four shots each until James Ring finally poked one past Berrafato. All Viele had to do was hold up his end and the RoadRunners would own the night. TJ Sarcona, already on the board with the first goal of the game, raced towards the Topeka net and fired. Viele calmly caught the puck in the pocket of his glove, sealing victory for the visiting team.
“This is not an easy environment to win in and our guys embraced it,” added Langer. “Ringer came up big when we needed it.”
The RoadRunners and Bulls battle again on Saturday night at 7pm. Fans in Topeka are invited to watch the game at Blind Tiger Brewery and Restaurant. The team will return home on November 9 and 10 to face the Bulls again on Veterans Day Weekend. That weekend is significant as the RoadRunners will be holding a specialty jersey auction with a portion of the proceeds going to benefit the Topeka VA Hospital. For more information on the games and tickets, call 785-286-PUCK or visit the Expocentre Box Office.
TOPEKA ROADRUNNERS: Kyle Sharkey (20pts) goal assisted by Tyler Andrew (6pts) at 14:44 in the first period. Sean Gaffney (22pts) unassisted goal (extra attacker) at 19:10 in the third period. Goaltender Spencer Viele (10-1-0, 271 saves, 1.58 GAA) saved 34 out of 36 shots on goal. Powerplay: 0 for 4. Penalties: 27 minutes on 5 infractions.
AMARILLO BULLS: TJ Sarcona (18pts) goal assisted by Tyler Rostenkowski (4pts) and Gage Christianson (11pts) at 3:38 in the first period. Omar Mullan (11pts) goal assisted by Hampus Gustafsson (14pts) at 5:15 in the third period. Goaltender Paul Berrafato (7-0-2, 165 saves, 1.22 GAA) saved 21 out of 23 shots on goal. Powerplay: 0 for 3. Penalties: 20 minutes on 7 infractions.