The RoadRunners hot streak continued on Saturday as they defeated the Wichita Falls Wildcats 5-3, posting their fifth straight win and maintaining sole possession of first place in the NAHL South.
For the first time this season, goalie Evan Karambelas started the game on the bench as newcomer Eric Rohrkemper (recently acquired from Cedar Rapids of the USHL) was put to the test. Topeka spotted him a 1-0 lead with Alec Hagaman finishing off a Patrick Kirtland attempt at 6:17, but the ‘Cats answered with a powerplay goal at 13:30 by Zach Ledford that deflected off a leg in the slot. Topeka answered with a Kevin Ryan shot that went through traffic into the net at 15:42 on the powerplay for a 2-1 lead, and Erik Higby set up another goal seconds later, fighting his way through a check down the left wing and firing a pass across to Cole Schneider who finished it off at 15:51 for a sudden 3-1 lead. The wild first period saw the ‘Cats score yet again, this time an Ian Young backhander from Anthony Iaquinto after a ‘Runner turnover. Topeka led 3-2 after one period of play.
In the second period, Topeka controlled the pace the majority of the way, and had an apparent goal overruled when Chris Bond took a shot from the left circle that caromed off the leg of Erik Higby and into the net. The referee washed the goal out, saying it was kicked in, though the puck hit Higby near the knee. The ‘Runners added a goal anyway at 17:37 as Alec Hagaman scored his second of the night, this one set up by Jacob Poe and Edgars Lipsbergs on the powerplay and Topeka led 4-2 after 2.
In the third period, Wichita Falls closed the gap to 1 when Anthony Iaquinto muscled a low shot past Rohrkemper on the powerplay from the right circle at 4:59 but Topeka quickly snuffed the ‘Cats momentum when Edgars Lipsbergs launched a missile from the left wing that beat Graveline across the body, high on the glove side for a 5-3 lead. The ‘Cats pulled Graveline for the extra attacker for the final 2:22 but the ‘Runners defense held fast, securing the win, their fifth consecutive.
Topeka (7-2-1) will travel to Springfield, IL to face another South Division foe in the Jr. Blues (5-4-2). The ‘Runners have won five straight while Springfield is 2-2-1 over the same span. After the Springfield trip, Topeka heads home for a three game set against the Albert Lea Thunder.