Entering the final weekend of the regular season, on paper the games may not appear to mean much, but to the players, it was a dress rehearsal for the Division Semi-Final playoff series which begins right back in the same building next weekend.
Topeka wasted no time getting on the board, scoring three goals on their first four shots in the opening five minutes of play, chasing the starting goalie and setting the tone for the remainder of the game. At 2:02, Dominic Lutz buried his 25th goal of the season, assisted by Johnny Walker. At 4:30, JB Baker roofed a shot from the high slot from Quinn Preston and Luka Maver, prompting the Brahmas to use their lone time out. Twenty six seconds later, a Shawn Brennan shot trickled through the pads for a 3-0 Topeka lead and Lone Star switched goalies. Topeka added two more goals during a double minor power play and led 5-0 after the first. Dominic Lutz scored the first of the two with a crisp wrister and Marshall Bowery added another, tipping a Ryan O’Connor shot home. The five goals in a period tied a season high for Topeka. A potential sixth goal by Marcus Russell was disallowed.
In the middle frame, Topeka added another power play goal at 3:49 for a 6-0 edge, scored by Andrew Hart, set up by Bowery and Walker. Lone Star managed to get on the board on a power play goal at 11:39, but it was all the offense they could muster as Topeka cruised to the 6-1 win. The final period was littered with fights, though, as the frustrated Brahmas looked to assert themselves on their home ice. Johnny Walker dropped the gloves with Carson Kelley, then moments later Andrew Hart engaged with Bud Madej in a tilt that lasted quite a while. Later in the game, Jakob Romo was penalized for instigating a fight with Topeka’s Jeff Makowski in the final minute. The ramifications from the extracurriculars remain to be seen. Juho NIku picked up the win, turning aside 25 Lone Star shots on goal.
Topeka (34-23-2) and Lone Star (38-12-9) meet in the final game of the regular season Saturday at 7:30 pm at the NYTEX Sports Center. The game will be streamed live online with FASTHockey.com.