Sixty minutes wasn’t enough to decide Game 4 of this NAHL South Division Semi Final series, and Topeka waited for the final minute of overtime to collect a 5-4 win to clinch the series.
Lone Star opened the scoring when the ‘Runners mishandled a puck at their own goal line, allowing Hogan Davidson a wide open chance for the 1-0 lead at 9:03 of the first period. Topeka answered back quickly, though, as Jack Nickels ripped a shot through a screen fourteen seconds later to tie the game at 1-1, assisted by Marshall Bowery. Just under a minute and a half later, Topeka took the lead as Andrew Hart snapped a heavy wrister over the goalie’s glove hand for a 2-1 lead that remained at the first buzzer.
A Lone Star turnover set up another RoadRunner opportunity, as the Brahmas looked to clear their zone up the middle and the puck was picked off by Johnny Walker who slipped a quick feed to Max Harper, with Harper burying a low shot for a 3-1 lead at 3:27. A Topeka turnover set up a Brahma goal that closed the gap to a single goal as Cody Wickline sent the puck into the slot for Joey Fallon to snap home a one-timer at 11:50. The RoadRunners regained a two-goal cushion when Quinn Preston pounced on an Andrew Hart feed and outraced the Brahma defense, scoring a backhander at 18:05 to restore Topeka’s two goal lead at 4-2.
There are those that call a two goal lead the most dangerous in hockey. That theory played out in the third period as Lone Star erased their deficit to force overtime. Peter Kessel tipped an Alex Berardinelli shot at 13:10 and Tyler Drevitch roofed a shot from close range over a prone Juho Niku with only 1:58 remaining to force the extra session, the second overtime of the series.
The overtime period began cautiously but as time wore on it started to open up with more chances at either end. As the clock wound down to the final minute of overtime, Topeka defenseman Ryan O’Connor knifed end to end for an unassisted blast that squeezed through the five hole and whipped the Expocentre crowd into a frenzy.
The RoadRunners will advance to face the #1 seed Wichita Falls Wildcats in a best-of-five series beginning next weekend. The game schedule and ticket information will be announced early this coming week.