Not without some tense moments, the Topeka RoadRunners got it done on Saturday night.
Leading 3-0 with just minutes to play, Topeka (13-24-3) allowed Springfield (18-15-3) to creep back in it with two late tallies.
In a heart-pumping final minute, RoadRunners goaltender Sam Metcalf turned away a barrage of chances, preserving a 3-2 victory at Landon Arena.
Forward Dallas Tulik had two goals in the contest for Topeka, including the eventual game-winner at 8:37 of the third period. He knows his team will need to learn from the waning moments of the third period.
“I thought we played a great first 45-50 minutes of hockey tonight, but those last two minutes, we got too soft and gave up two goals,” Tulik said. “We definitely need to tighten that up.”
Tulik’s offensive success has picked up of recent, as he has scored six of his ten goals this season since Dec. 15.
“I’ve started to have some success here since Christmas break and I have to credit my line mates for that,” Tulik said. “I’m just getting to the right spots and good things are happening.”
Peppering goaltender Evan Fear with a whopping 17 shots in the first period, Topeka got off to a hot start on Saturday.
Tulik opened the scoring at 15:25, as he took a pass from forward Austin McCarthy, spun and beat Fear for a 1-0 lead.
“That was one of the best games of our season so far from a compete-level standpoint,” RoadRunners head coach Justin DeMartino said. “All of the veterans on this team stepped up tonight, and we took care of business.”
In the second period, Topeka did not let off the gas. Forward Jakub Urbanek was in the right place at the right time at 7:21, taking a carom off the boards and right to his stick, beating Fear for a 2-0 lead.
The all-important third goal came at 8:37 of the third period. Defenseman Matt Barnes raced past the Springfield defense and came in on a partial breakaway.
Despite a pad stop from Fear, Tulik grabbed a juicy rebound and flipped it into the net for a 3-0 lead.
Fear finished the night with 33 saves on 36 shots, while Metcalf had 16 saves on 18 shots.
Topeka will look to keep up the momentum in game two of the series on at 5:05 p.m. Sunday at Landon Arena.