The RoadRunners long awaited return home was spoiled by the hottest team in the NAHL as the Amarillo Bulls skated to a 5-3 win Friday night in Topeka.
After playing 20 of 22 games (including preseason) outside state lines, the RoadRunners were eager to return home, and got on the board quickly as Ryan White continued on his torrid pace, scoring on a beautiful snapshot just 1:36 into the game. Amarillo answered as the league's #2 rated power play caught a break when Josh Hillegas turned aside Michael Erickson's wraparound attempt at 10:21 but Joe Kozlak had the puck roll right around to him where he easily tapped it in to tie the game. The Bulls leading scorer Brooks Behling had a bouncing puck find his stick and he swatted it home at 14:35 for a 2-1 Bulls lead. Topeka tied it up when Jake Lynes spotted Dan Dupell coming out of the penalty box, and Dupell buried a backhander as he came in alone on the breakaway at 16:50. The Bulls answered back quickly at 17:23 as Tyler Deresky redirected a Geoff Fortman shot from the right point and the Bulls led 3-2 at the end of the first period.
The early part of the second was closely contested, but Amarillo delivered a blow at 9:53 when a Topeka defensive zone collapse allowed Brooks Behling to walk out of the left wing corner untouched where he slipped the puck around behind Hillegas for a 4-2 lead. The lead grew to 5-2 when Matt Johnson bounced the puck off a stretched out Chris Bond from behind the goal line at 12:24, sending Hillegas to the bench and bringing Peter Traber on in relief. Traber was tested early, as he turned aside two breakaway chances and the Bulls 5-2 lead stood at the end of 2.
Beginning the third period shorthanded, things looked dour for the RoadRunners until Brian Christie set up Jake Lynes who stuffed a shorthanded shot past Gregg Gruehl to make it a 5-3 game and inject some life into the building. Fisticuffs erupted at the 3:54 mark, resulting in Topeka losing two of their defensemen (Chris Bond, Luke Veitch) to ejections. The 'Runners managed more pressure in the third period, but Amarillo held on for the 5-3 win.
Topeka (12-7-2) and Amarillo (15-1-2) meet again Saturday night at 7:05 pm. Amarillo has won all three games between the two clubs, and those points represent the difference in the standings as Topeka trails by 6 points.