RoadRunners Claw Back, Win Shootout in Odessa 5-4
That long drive back from Odessa just got a lot shorter. Staring a three-goal deficit in the face, the RoadRunners (12-2-2) ignited in the third period against Odessa (3-8-2) and won in a sudden death shootout 5-4.
Trace Strahle, who scored the game’s first goal on a powerplay at 7:47 in the first period, was the hero for Topeka tonight as he was the only player for either team with a goal during the shootout. But that’s getting ahead of the story.
After Strahle gave the RoadRunners the early 1-0 lead, Odessa would score the next four points (three on powerplays) to take what appeared to be an insurmountable lead going into the third period. Lawrence Cornellier garnered a hat trick for the Jackalopes with former RoadRunner Ryan Doucet adding to the damage with a goal of his own. With the score 4-1, RoadRunners Head Coach Scott Langer made the call to replace starting goalie Mackenzie Sawyer with Spencer Viele.
“We were flat,” explained Langer. “We needed a spark and Spencer has been played with fire lately. We have guys that pick one another up and tonight we needed to that big time.”
Viele stepped in and proceeded to deny all 12 shots fired his way (not counting the seven he saved during the shootout). Meanwhile, Sean Gaffney cut into the Jackalope lead at 5:50 in the third to make it 4-2. Then Michal Pastor netted the team’s second powerplay goal of the night at 9:45 to make it 4-3.
It became apparent that the momentum was shifting quickly towards Topeka. Held to 14 shots on goal over the first two periods, the RoadRunners exploded for 20 in the final minutes. With 1:10 remaining in regulation, Kyle Sharkey stole the puck off of a faceoff in Odessa’s zone and slipped it past Blake Wojtala to send the game into overtime.
“The competitiveness, drive and will of this team shined tonight in that third period,” added Langer. “I’m proud of the way this team battled this weekend.”
An uneventful overtime led to a nail-biting shootout round. Neither goalie seemed willing to give an inch as shot after shot was turned away (six attempts by each team). The biggest scare came for Viele as he deflected a puck that seemed destined to float over his shoulder and into the goal. The puck flipped in the air and landed harmlessly just inches away from the line.
On the seventh attempt Strahle netted the puck and Viele denied Odessa’s final effort, sealing victory for the RoadRunners. Topeka heads home with a three point lead on second-place Texas who once again fell to next weekend’s opponent, the Amarillo Bulls.
Fans in Topeka are invited to watch the RoadRunners battle the Bulls next Friday and Saturday night at Blind Tiger Brewery and Restaurant. The team will 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 specilaty jersey auction with a portion of the proceeds benefitting the Topeka VA Hospital. For more information on these games and tickets, call 785-286-PUCK or visit the RoadRunners Box Office.
TOPEKA ROADRUNNERS: Trace Strahle (10pts) powerplay goal assisted by Sean Gaffney (21pts) at 7:47 in the first period. Sean Gaffney goal assisted by Tyler Andrew (5pts) and Kevin Patterson (3pts) at 5:50 in the third period. Michal Pastor (11pts) powerplay goal assisted by Dan Dupell (8pts) and Tyler Poulsen (11pts) at 9:45 in the third period. Kyle Sharkey (17pts) goal assisted by Sean Gaffney at 18:50 in the third period. Goaltender Mackenzie Sawyer (3-1-2, 147 saves, 1.63 GAA) saved 17 of 21 shots on goal. Goaltender Spencer Viele (9-1-0, 229 saves, 1.48 GAA) saved 12 of 12 shots on goal. Powerplay: 2 for 4. Penalties: 32 minutes on 9 infractions.
ODESSA JACKALOPES: Lawrence Cornellier (13pts) powerplay goal assisted by Austin Ho (3pts) and Ryan Doucet (11pts) at 16:59 in the first period. Lawrence Cornellier goal assisted by Jalen Krogman (7pts) and Ryan Doucet at :19 in the second period. Lawrence Cornellier powerplay goal assisted by Jalen Krogman at 6:05 in the second period. Ryan Doucet powerplay goal assisted by Tyler Minx (7pts) and Lawrence Cornellier at 19:22 in the second period. Goaltender Blake Wojtala (2-2-1, 130 saves, 3.62 GAA) saved 32 of 36 shots on goal. Powerplay: 3 for 4. Penalties: 35 minutes on 9 infractions.