Michael Hill began the 2008-09 season as a Wichita Falls Wildcat. Now a RoadRunner, Hill scored twice and assisted on a third to help Topeka post a 5-2 win over his former team on Thursday night in front of the seasons largest crowd to date, with 2,044 fans in the Kansas Expocentre.
Hill gave Topeka a 1-0 lead at 4:24, a power play tally on a wicked snap shot with Wildcat defenseman Steven Hoshaw on his hands and knees INSIDE the net, having slid there after bumping into a teammate. The goal was Hill\’s 12th of the season. The ‘Runners scored again when Tony Thomas sent a centering pass while looping behind the net that banked in off the stick of a Wildcat defenseman for a 2-0 lead at 7:55 that was assisted by Michael Hill. Nate Milam added to the first period scoring when he blasted a highlight reel shot upstairs on a 2-on-1 break, popping Kelly Andrew\’s water bottle off the net for a 3-0 lead that prompted a Wildcat goalie change, with Erick Cinotti coming on in relief. Topeka\’s 3-0 lead stood through the end of the period. One of the period highlights was Cooper Frederick stopping the NAHL\’s leading goal scorer Brian Sheehan on a penalty shot with a glove save.
In the second period, Wichita Falls capitalized on a Topeka defensive zone turnover that sprung Daniel Gentzler who stuffed a backhander past Cooper Frederick at 2:14 to get on the board but the momentum stalled and the 3-1 RoadRunner lead was intact after two periods of play.
When Zach Ledford scored on the power play at 5:58 of the third to make it a 3-2 game, visions of the Wildcats comeback from a 4-0 deficit on their last visit were conjured up, but the friendly confines of Landon Arena yielded a fortuitous chance for Topeka when Jeff Burke drove the puck down the left wing boards and it a seam in the boards, popping right out in front for Bryce Johnson who hammered it home as Wildcat goalie Erick Cinotti had come out to the puck that never got to him. The goal put Topeka up 4-2 and seemed to deflate the ‘Cats. Michael Hill\’s second goal of the night at 15:16 put the game out of reach and Topeka notched their seventh consecutive win, tying a franchise record set numerous times in the past. The tail end of the third period featured two classic battles, with Kurtis Anton and Steven Hoshaw slugging it out in an epic battle of heavyweights, and Justin Kochan dispensing some Kansas-style justice on Sean Keane in another entertaining bout.
Topeka (24-5-3) remains in first place, pulling ahead of St. Louis in winning percentage, as the Bandits get set for a three game weekend series with Springfield. The Wildcats fall to 9-17-5. The ‘Runners are now 14-0-1 at Landon Arena, have won 9 straight at home, and look to set a franchise record for consecutive wins on Friday night when they entertain the Wildcats once again. Topeka is 4-0-1 against the ‘Cats this season. Goalie Cooper Frederick improved to 7-3-1, stopping 27 of 29 shots. Following the Friday game, Topeka will auction off their \”futuristic\” jerseys in a live auction after the game.