In the final chapter of a three game weekend series, the Topeka RoadRunners once again found their scoring touch in time to secure their playoff berth for the tenth consecutive season, defeating Odessa 7-2 on Sunday in the Kansas Expocentre.
Odessa struck first, when Hampus Sjodahl slid a backhander between the pads of Tyler Johnson at 8:04 and the ‘Runners trailed 1-0. Late in the period the RoadRunners found the equalizer, after a one-touch pass from Sami Tavernier to Tyler Hayes, and some slick puckhandling by Hayes set up Quinn Preston, who buried his own rebound at 18:35 and the game was tied 1-1 after 20 minutes.
Saturday night’s hero for Odessa, Pierce Pluemer once again found the puck behind Topeka’s defense and scored a low shot for the 2-1 Jackalopes lead, unassisted at 5:50. The ‘Runners once again tied it up, as Johnny Walker jammed home a feed from Quinn Preston and assisted by Tim Makowski, the younger brother of Jeff playing in his first NAHL game. Topeka took a lead they would not relinquish when JB Baker scored on the power play at 18:35 from Tavernier and Preston and the ‘Runners lead was 3-2 after 2.
The final period saw Topeka ramp up the offense, adding 4 more goals including three in a span of 1:45, scored by Marshall Bowery, Luka Maver, Dominic Lutz and Sami Tavernier. Tyler Johnson stopped 27 Odessa shots for the win.
Topeka (32-21-1) returns to the road to face the Wichita Falls Wildcats (40-10-4) on Friday and Saturday nights. The Wildcats are seeking their first ever division title, while Topeka will finish out of the top 2 for the first time since moving to Kansas in 2007. The ‘Runners are 3-5-0 against the ‘Cats this season.