The Topeka RoadRunners 2017-2018 season had its share of ups and downs, but it came to an optimistic close on Saturday night.
Fighting valiantly, Topeka dropped its final game of the season 6-2 to the Amarillo Bulls, at Landon Arena.
Despite the loss, Topeka outshot the Bulls 34-33 in the contest and had their chances on goaltender Trevor Micucci, who had a solid night in net for Amarillo.
“Even when we were down, we didn’t give up,” RoadRunners head coach Justin DeMartino said. “I know the year didn’t go as planned, but our guys played their tails off tonight, so we have a lot to be proud of.”
In the first period, defenseman Cameron Bartkoski opened the scoring for the Bulls just 1:19 into the opening frame.
Forward Mason Vukonich knotted it up and got Topeka on the board at 11:30 of the first, nudging a loose puck past Micucci, making it 1-1.
Just over five minutes later, the Bulls responded, with forward Nic Griebenow’s fifth goal of the season making it 2-1 Amarillo. The score would stand into first intermission.
The Bulls tacked on two quick goals early in the second period, and in the blink of an eye, it was 4-1 Amarillo just four minutes into the middle frame.
A nice set up from forward Dallas Tulik to forward Adrian Elefalk cut the lead to 4-2 at 8:21, with Elefalk’s wrist shot fooling Micucci.
Topeka could get no closer, unfortunately. Two more goals in the third period stretched the Bulls’ lead to 6-2, which would remain until the final horn sounded.
With the loss, Topeka’s season ends and the team will begin its focus to next year.
While multiple RoadRunners players and former players from the season will head off now to college commitments, many younger players will be eligible to come back and play next season.
DeMartino stated there are still a lot of positives to take away from this year when thinking about it from that aspect
“Obviously, you have to congratulate all the guys who have made commitments to playing hockey collegiately next year, but it’s also exciting to know we have a young team and a really good group of guys able to come back,” DeMartino said. “Now it’s time to build and focus on what we can do. We know what we are capable of.”