Zilisch nets game-winner in the final minute, Pilots knock off Jr. Blues 3-2

Trailing 2-0 after the second period, the Topeka Pilots had 20 minutes to make a comeback on Friday night against the Springfield Jr. Blues 

Scoring three unanswered goals certainly got the mission accomplished. 

After evening the contest at 2-2 late in the third, Topeka did not stop there. With a goal in the last minute of the game from forward Connor Zilisch, Topeka (22-10-3) took the lead in a dramatic fashion, winning 3-2 at the Nelson Center. 

Topeka is now 8-1-1 in their last 10 games to move within six points of the first place Lone Star Brahmas and four points behind the second place Amarillo Bulls. 

After struggling to find offensive prowess, Topeka turned up the pressure in the final frame. Entering the third with only 12 shots on goal, the Pilots amassed 13 shots in the last 20 minutes. 

The game-winning goal came off a broken play in the final minute, with Zilisch behind the net when he centered the puck on net towards Wilson. The puck ricocheted off of Wilson’s to sneak into the net, giving the Pilots their first lead of the night at 19:43. 

The breakthrough moment came at 8:34 of the third, with forward Nick Nardecchia beating goaltender Ryan Wilson after a loose puck found its way to his stick just outside of the crease. 

The play originally continued after the puck was flipped past Wilson and right back out of the net, but after review at the next whistle, the goal was awarded to Nardecchia. 

Just over six minutes later, at 14:52 of the third period, forward Kaiden Scott evened the game at two with his ninth of the season. After finding some space at the blue line, Scott ripped a slap shot past a screened Wilson, putting the momentum in the Pilots’ favor in the waning minutes. 

Forward Leo Ballacao opened the scoring for the Jr. Blues at 18:49 of the first, beating Pilots goaltender Guy Blessing for his fifth of the season. 

Then, it was forward Mason McCormick doubling the lead at 9:16 of the second, beating Blessing on the backhand on a 2-on-1 break for the Jr. Blues. 

Blessing was solid overall on the evening, stopping 22 of 24 shots to improve to 9-7-1. 

Topeka will look to grab another victory in Saturday night’s affair, with puck drop set for 6:05 p.m. at the Nelson Center.