Following two plus months away from Landon Arena, the Topeka RoadRunners are returning home this weekend for their last games of the season.
Topeka (18-34-5) begins the three-game series Friday when they face the Shreveport MudBugs at 7:05 p.m.
Shreveport (35-17-5) comes into the weekend having clinched second place in the NAHL South Division. They will provide a tough test for the Runners.
“For us, this weekend will show our guys what level you need to be at this time of the year,” RoadRunners coach Josh Kamrass said. “We need to be at that level ourselves. Shreveport is a well-coached team. They move the puck really well and they play fast-paced hockey.”
Topeka is coming off a tough two-game series in Amarillo. Holding leads in both games, Topeka relinquished its lead both nights late in the third period, culminating in a Bulls’ sweep of the RoadRunners.
“Playing a full 60 minutes is a huge part of our game we need to fix before this weekend,” Kamrass said. ”Being able to play one period of hockey is good, but it’s not nearly good enough.”
Heading into the weekend, Topeka held its annual end of the year banquet Tuesday evening at Heritage Hall. While Topeka’s goal of the playoffs was not met this season, Kamrass said his team has shown a lot of heart and perseverance this season.
“The group that we’ve had, I’m extremely proud of the work they’ve put in. It speaks to their character,” Kamrass said. “There’s never been any quit in them. That’s something that this group has had. We’ve learned a lot of lessons this year. There have been growing pains, but we’ve been growing through them together.”
For Topeka, they have dealt well with roster changes, bringing in a number of players who’ve bolstered their roster over the last several months.
“We have some guys that this will be their first games in our rink this weekend,” Kamrass said. “There’s a lot of excitement.”
With the looming offseason, Topeka will also look to continue to build going into next year individually and as a group.
“The offseason will be a good time for us to get some recovery,” Kamrass said. “Nowadays though, there’s no ‘offseason.’ You’re on the ice 12 months a year and you just have to make sure you stay focused and ready for next August.”