After surrendering home ice advantage in a split of the first two games in Topeka, the RoadRunners responded with a solid 8-1 drubbing of the Springfield Jr. Blues in Illinois on Friday night, taking a 2-1 series lead with a chance to close out the Semi-Finals on Saturday.
Topeka dominated Game 3 from the opening faceoff. Two first period goals for the \’Runners paved the way, the first a wicked wrister off the stick of Edgars Lipsbergs (his third of the playoffs) at 4:25. The 1-0 lead was doubled on pretty passing play between Michael Hill, Erik Higby and Justin Kovacs, with Kovacs doing the honors by lifting a shot on the right wing over the glove hand of Andrew Martin for a 2-0 lead just :59 seconds later. Topeka led 2-0 after 1.
In the second period, the only goal was a 5-on-3 power play tally from Alec Hagaman, blasted home from the slot and set up nicely by Kovacs at 17:54, breaking the power play drought that had haunted the \’Runners all series. It was 3-0 Topeka after 2 periods of play.
In the third period was when the \’Runners did the majority of their damage. The onslaught began when Cole Schneider fired a backhand on the right wing that came around off the end boards to Tony Thomas who netted it for a 4-0 Topeka lead at 1:09. At 4:56 it was Bryce Johnson who snapped home a shot up high after a pair of slick passes from Schneider and Thomas. Topeka\’s 5-0 lead was tarnished at 7:21 when Nick Curry tipped in a Trent Frey pass, but the \’Runners responded in kind with a Cole Schneider tally at 12:02from Bryce Johnson and Tony Thomas making it 6-1. The outburst continued when Schneider blasted home a slapshot on the power play at 13:51 for a staggering 7-1 lead, beating Martin on the short side from the right wing. Andrew Martin was relieved by Tanner Milliron after that goal, and for his efforts, Milliron was rewarded with a high slap shot from Edgars Lipsbergs that Michael Hill followed by knocking in the rebound at 15:58. The 8-1 lead ended up being the final, with Eric Rohrkemper picking up the win for Topeka, credited with 22 official saves.
With the win, Topeka stands one win away from advancing to the NAHL South Division Finals for the third consecutive year. The \’Runners will look to close out the series in Game 4 on Saturday night in Springfield.