In their final home stand before the end of February, the Runners dominated the first game and held on for a shootout win in the second to complete a big sweep over the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees. Topeka will take the next week off before embarking on a seven-game roadtrip beginning with the Springfield Junior Blues on February 6th.
Friday night's game saw the Killer Bees conrolling the tempo in the first period. Fortunately for Topeka, the defense and goaltender Matej Tomek held Rio scoreless heading into the second frame. After intermission, the Runners emerged from the locker room a changed team, outskating and outshooting the Bees until Daniel Brickley opened the floodgates with an unassisted power play goal at 11:24. It would be the first of four power play goals on the night for Topeka and the ultimate difference in the game. Two minutes later, Carlos Fornaris took a feed from Jasen Fernsler to double the score at even strength. Tyler Irvine capped off the period with another power play goal at 14:44 (assisted by Cam Strong and Daniel Rzavsky) and the Runners returned to the locker room on top 3-0. In the final period, Mike Gornall (assisted by Brickley and Fernsler at 5:43) and Rzavsky (assisted by Strong and Fornaris at 8:53) added two more power play goals to up the lead to five. Irvine again finished the scoring, chipping in the sixth and final goal of the game at 13:03 (assisted by Gornall and Rzavsky). Tomek collected his sixth shutout of the year by stopping all 25 shots against him.
In the final game of the series, Rio Grande stepped up again. Only this time, the visiting team stayed with the Runners throughout the game. The Bees drew first blood in the opening period on a power play goal by Dan Nilsson at 6:18. Sam Rennaker (assisted by Ryan Polin) knotted the game at one at 12:04 and the game would remain that way until the third period. Early in the third, Fernsler (assisted by Brickley and Rennaker) gave Topeka its first lead of the game with the team's fifth power play goal of the series. However, with less than 10 minutes remaining, the Bees tied it up and held on through the horn to send the game into overtime. Neither club scored in the extra frame and in the ensuing shootout, only one team was able to muster a goal: Topeka (Jasen Fernsler, second attempt). The 3-2 victory extended their lead in the South Division to eight points over Lone Star and nine over Wichita Falls who both have four games in hand over the Runners. The win was also their 30th of the season, making Topeka only the second team in the NAHL with 30 or more wins on the season (Janesville has 32).
The Runners won't return to Landon Arena until February 27th when they take on the Wichita Falls Wildcats. Every game of the seven-game roadtrip can be seen at either The Lazy Toad Restaurant or Skinny's Sports Bar & Grill, the official hosts of the Runners Away Game Viewing Parties. For more information on which venue will be hosting the next party or for tickets to upcoming games, call 785-286-PUCK or follow the Runners on Facebook and Twitter.