In an evening designated to honor military and service personnel, the RoadRunners and Tornado provided a battle on ice with Topeka prevailing in the end, a 3-2 win on home ice in front of over 2,500 fans.
After an solemn and moving presentation of the US Honor Flag (www.ushonorflag.org), the teams went to work and it didn\’t take long for the tempers to flare. Both teams threw bone jarring hits but it was Topeka who consistently won the battles on the boards and races to loose pucks, outshooting Texas 12-2 at one point but the second of the two Texas shots was a backhander by Scott Deur that slipped under Eric Rohrkemper\’s blocker for a 1-0 Tornado lead at 11:19. Undeterred, Topeka fought back and Alec Hagaman singlehandedly tied the game, carrying the puck down the right wing, and when forced into the corner, looped back around and rolled through the slot beating Texas goalie Dan Sullivan on his glove side with a backhander to tie the game at 1-1. Just :05 seconds later, newcomer Justin Kovacs flew into the zone to bury a shot for a 2-1 lead at 14:21.
In the second period, things slowed a bit as both sides seemed to be a bit more cautious. The \’Runners outshot their guests 13-8, after dominating shots 16-4 in the first. Yet still, a one goal game, which is always dangerous.
Texas got the goal they craved just :58 into the third as Rock Einerson finished off a Scott Deur pass to tie the game. The game stayed knotted at 2-2 until 11:13 when Chris Bond fed Erik Higby a pass that he tipped ahead quickly to Justin Kovacs, springing him in alone as Texas was caught flat footed in a defensive change. Kovacs lifted a backhander upstairs on the glove side, his second goal of the night to give Topeka a 3-2 lead, and it proved to be the game winning goal. Texas pulled the goalie for the extra attacker down the stretch, but despite a frenzied swarm couldn\’t force the puck home and the Topeka RoadRunners picked up their 30th win of the season.
Topeka (30-7-4) and Texas (16-18-3) meet for the final time this regular season Saturday night in Kansas. Topeka is 9-2-0 vs Texas this season, and 5-0-0 at home.