The Topeka RoadRunners blew a commanding 4-1 lead, and a tenacious Texas Tornado club fought back to tie the game at 5-5 before Topeka retook the lead and eventually the game by a score of 8-5.
After a nailbiter on Friday resulting in a 3-2 Topeka win, the RoadRunners looked to get off to a better start and they did, with newcomer Justin Kovacs picking the top corner just :24 into the game. J.D. Howard tied it up for Texas at 3:52 on a powerplay goal, but Topeka went ahead once again at 10:52 as Justin Kovacs scored his second of the game and fourth of the weekend with a man advantage. At 14:59 Michael Hill rifled a blistering slapshot over the shoulder of Texas netminder Dan Sullivan for a 3-1, also on the powerplay. Continuing to press, Topeka scored again at 15:49 as Justin Kochan punched in a rebound, his first goal of the season. With a 4-1 lead, the \’Runners were clearly in control, outshooting Texas 12-4.
The second period saw Topeka continue to get quality chances, but their penalty kill went AWOL as Texas scored on back to back power plays, making it a 4-3 game and changing the whole complexion of the evening. The first was scored by Scott Deur at 9:35, and J.D. Howard netted his second of the game at 11:42. The \’Runners added an insurance goal when Tony Thomas hammered home a centering pass from Nate Milam at 18:39 and Topeka held a 5-3 edge after 2.
Texas wasn\’t done. As Topeka\’s penalty kill continued to flounder, J.D. Howard scored his third power play goal of the night at 5:51. All four Tornado goals had come on the power play, but they tied it up at 5-5 on an even strength shot from the right point that deflected into the net off a \’Runners stick and the comeback was complete. For all the dominance Topeka had shown early, all was for naught with the game tied midway through the final period. Fans in Landon Arena breathed a collective sigh of relief when Patrick Kirtland snapped home a rebound at 13:37 for a 6-5 lead. When Texas pulled the goalie for an extra attacker, Topeka quickly capitalized as Nate Milam hit the empty twine at 18:58. With nothing to lose, the Tornado re-employed the same strategy but again it failed as Justin Kochan fired the puck home with :25 remaining for the final 8-5 margin, a tally that was not truly indicative of how close the game really was. Eric Rohrkemper picked up the win, improving to 10-1-1 on the year.
Topeka (31-7-4) embarks on an eight game road swing beginning with two games in Wichita Falls, TX next weekend. The Wildcats (12-25-5) dropped a pair of games to the Fairbanks Ice Dogs at home over the weekend. The \’Runners are 6-0-1 vs Wichita Falls this season.