Topeka Starts Strong, Defeats Odessa 5-2
Every time the RoadRunners (11-2-2) have skated with purpose and energy this season, good things have happened. Just ask Odessa (3-8-1) after their ordeal at Ector County Coliseum Friday night. Topeka came out fast and didn’t stop until pretty much everyone had a shot on goal (Tyler Groat chipped in seven on his own), dropping the Jackalopes 5-2.
Following the usual script, however, the Jackalopes posted the game’s first score with Tyler Cayemberg’s goal at 5:23 in the opening frame. This despite the efforts of a RoadRunner offense that had been pressing the puck in the Odessa defensive zone for most of the period.
Michal Pastor erased the deficit moments later with a rocket on a powerplay at 9:12. The RoadRunners had been peppering Andrew Pikul during a two-man advantage with Pastor’s goal coming shortly after Odessa returned Tyler Minx to the ice (2 minutes for elbowing at 8:13). The score would remain tied going into the first intermission but Topeka’s intensity was evident, leading 16-9 in shots-on-goal.
“A very determined group tonight,” recalled Head Coach Scott Langer after the game. “The energy level was in the locker room from start to finish.”
In the second period, Tyler Poulsen lit up the scoreboard on another powerplay at 3:26. The RoadRunners were 2 for 6 with a man advantage on the night. They would enter the third period up 2-1 after again leading in shots, this time 16-6.
“We have been focusing offensively and tonight you could see the application of those principles,” added Langer. “Getting scoring from Groater (Tyler Groat) and [Tyler] Andrew was great to see.”
The coach was referring to the tandem of Groat and Andrew who combined for the team’s final three goals of the game. The first, by Groat, came at 8:58 in the third and gave the RoadRunners a 3-1 cushion. Odessa’s Curt Rau would cut the lead back down to one at 14:11. Andrew restored the two-point lead at 17:29 and was immediately followed by Groat’s second goal of the night only eight seconds later at 17:37, cementing a 5-2 victory for Topeka.
All in all, 16 RoadRunners had shots on goal. Seven players posted two, three players posted three, three players posted five and one player posted seven (the aforementioned Groat). The final tally was Topeka 47, Odessa 26. Not too shabby for a road game in the NAHL. The RoadRunners improved their record to 4-1 against the Jackalopes and moved back into first place in the South Division with 24 points (Texas fell to Amarillo 7-2).
The RoadRunners will be back at it Saturday against Odessa at 7pm. Fans in Topeka are invited to watch game at Blind Tiger Brewery & Restaurant but are advised to arrive early as seats are limited. The team will hit the road again next weekend against the Amarillo Bulls and then 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: Michal Pastor (10pts) powerplay goal assisted by Trace Strahle (9pts) and Sean Gaffney (20pts) at 9:12 in the first period. Tyler Poulsen (11pts) powerplay goal assisted by Trace Strahle and Sean Gaffney at 3:26 in the second period. Tyler Groat (2pts) goal assisted by Dan Dupell (7pts) and James Ring (8pts) at 8:58 in the third period. Tyler Andrew (3pts) goal assisted by Sean Gaffney and Tyler Poulsen at 17:29 in the third period. Tyler Groat unassisted goal at 17:37 in the third period. Goaltender Spencer Viele (8-1-0, 217 saves, 1.55 GAA) saved 24 of 26 shots on goal. Powerplay: 2 for 6. Penalties: 11 minutes on 4 infractions.
ODESSA JACKALOPES: Tyler Cayemberg (5pts) goal assisted by Johan Sjoden (1pt) and Taylor Portner (8pts) at 5:23 in the first period. Curt Rau (1pt) goal assisted by Taylor Portner at 14:11 in the third period. Goaltender Andrew Pikul (0-3-0, 116 saves, 4.36 GAA) saved 42 of 47 shots on goal. Powerplay: 0 for 3. Penalties: 17 minutes on 7 infractions.