Down 3-0 entering the third period, the Topeka RoadRunners appeared hungry for a comeback after two consecutive goals Friday night.
After cutting the Odessa lead to 3-2, however, the Jackalopes responded with a goal of their own, taking a 4-2 lead. This stood through the final horn, as the Runners fell 4-2 at Landon Arena.
Entering the third period without a lot of momentum, RoadRunners head coach Justin DeMartino was proud of how his team fought back into the game in the third. Topeka outshot Odessa 12-6 in the final frame.
“We came back and fought there in the third,” DeMartino said. “It was tough to give up that late goal, but we made a couple of mental mistakes, and it cost us.”
The game was without the offensive production of forwards Nick Granowicz and Will Schlagenhauf, who have both been called up to the United States Hockey League.
This gave some different faces an opportunity to step up and be the offensive catalyst.
“I think you really some players step up tonight,” DeMartino said. “When guys like Dylan Rauh and Austin McCarthy, who have both been snake bitten a little bit, get going, it’s only going to help their confidence moving forward.”
McCarthy cut the deficit to 3-1 at 2:43 of the third period. Just after the ending of a RoadRunners’ powerplay, McCarthy gathered a rebound and flipped it past goaltender Alex Camarre.
Rauh then got into the act, with a powerplay goal at 11:58, also taking an advantage of a rebound to beat Camarre.
With a late goal from defenseman Joe Rosa, Odessa pushed it back to a two-goal lead, where it would stay to the final whistle.
Topeka will look to get back on track in game two Saturday at Landon Arena. Saturday’s game will include a teddy bear toss, with all bears tossed onto the ice after the first RoadRunners’ goal. They will be donated to the Topeka Rescue Mission.