Proving no lead is ever safe, the Topeka RoadRunners saw a 4-1 advantage get whittled away to nothing before finishing off the win in a shootout against the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees Friday night in Hidalgo, TX.
After successfully killin off 1:44 of 5 on 3 penalty kill time, the RoadRunners converted a power play goal of their own when Daniel Brickley blistered a snapshot top shelf at 12:03 of the first, assisted by Daniel Rzavsky and Jasen Fernsler. That opened a small scoring barrage as Sly Sutter ripped home a shot from the left wing wall just :33 seconds later, set up by Will Scherer. Then, :51 seconds later it was Mike Gornall who smacked home a rebound, set up by Ryan Polin and Tyler Irvine for a very sudden 3-0 Topeka lead at 13:27, sending Rio Grande Valley's starting goalie Nick Schmit to the bench in favor of Ben Johansson. The Bees did sneak in a power play goal at 18:28 of the period, but Topeka's 3-1 lead after one seemed solid.
In the second period, it was oddly a penalty free affair, the only goal scored at 2:36 by Dawson DiPietro in his first game back from injury, assisted by Shawn Brennan and Will Scherer. Brennan fed DiPietro on the left wing, and he made a slippery move before beating Johansson high over the right shoulder for a 4-1 lead that remained intact at the end of the second frame.
The Killer Bees needed something to build on, and got it early in the third. Dean Balsamo curled around behind the 'Runner net and fired a sharp pass in front to JB Baker who one-timed it low and hard from just above the crease to cut Topeka's lead to 4-2. After 30 minutes without a penalty, it was a questionable soft call that set up a Rio Grande Valley power play midway through the period. A fluttering shot from the point by newly acquired Wayland Williams hit a shoulder on the way down, bounced away to Stathis Soumelidis who tucked it in to make it a 4-3 game. More penalties led to a Killer Bee 5-on-3 power play late in the period, and with 3:13 left to play, Williams jammed home the game tying goal. Each team had a couple of chances in the overtime period, but the game would be decided in a shootout.
Drew Vogler had stopped 16 consecutive shootout attempts, a franchise record. But the first shooter for the Bees ripped one home high on the glove side, snapping the streak. Unfettered, Vogler simply began a new streak, turning aside 7 straight Rio Grande Vallley shooters while Topeka got scores from Daniel Rzavsky (Rd 2) and Daniel Brickley (Rd 8) to complete to 5-4 victory. The 'Runners now have a point in 7 straight games (6-0-1) and at 12-2-1, sport the best record in the NAHL.
Topeka (12-2-1) and Rio Grande Valley (5-4-2) meet again Saturday at 7:30 pm at State Farm Arena in Hidalgo, TX. It is the second of four games scheduled between these South Division foes, with the last two set for Topeka on Jan 23 and 24. Saturday's game is the 4th game of a 10-game road swing. Topeka returns home to face the Springfield Jr. Blues on Nov.21 and 22. Listen to every game on SportsRadio 1490 KTOP with Arch Ecker providing the play by play. The games are also available for pay per view at FASTHockey.com, and audio streams are available with iHeart Radio. Fans in Topeka can see all the action live at the Lazy Toad Restaurant.