RoadRunners fall 2-1 to Texas, fall behind 2-0 in series

Mike Covach (22) looks to get a shot past goaltender Hunter Leisner in the second period Sunday night. Covach couldn’t score on the play, as Topeka fell 2-1 and fell behind 2-0 in the best-of-five series.

Richard Kelly, Washburn Review

Much like Saturday night, the Topeka RoadRunners looked primed to defeat the Texas Tornado Sunday night.

Also much like Saturday, however, it was Texas who took advantage of its opportunities.

Topeka, playing aggressive most of the night, couldn’t tie the game at two late in the third period, as they fell 2-1 at Landon Arena.

With the win, Texas now holds a 2-0 lead in the NAHL South Division semifinals series. In a best-of-five series, down 2-0 is not the place Topeka wanted to be heading into game three, but it isn’t an impossible scenario for the RoadRunners.

“There’s no question we can win three in a row. We’ve done that against them,” said Scott Langer, Topeka head coach. “Our guys have to believe, and they have to put the work in.”

Topeka started the scoring at 19:23 of the first period when forward Sean Gaffney fed a pass from behind the goal to forward Kyle Sharkey, who smacked the puck past goaltender Hunter Leisner. The goal was one of three shots on goal for the RoadRunners in the first period.

In the second period, despite outshooting Texas 11-6, Topeka wasn’t able to increase its lead. Instead, at 4:59, forward CJ Reuschlein scored to knot the game at one. Then at 10:14, forward Scott Conway gave the Tornado a 2-1 lead.

In the third period, Topeka looked to tie the game, but two costly penalties slowed down the offensive attack. Even then, Sharkey had a chance to tie the game late when the puck ricocheted off of the boards onto his stick, but he narrowly missed an open net.

“We had chances, we just didn’t capitalize,” said Langer. “There were a lot of pucks that bounced over our sticks right in the high slot, we just couldn’t put them away. You could tell our guys got frustrated, because we had been doing a decent job of putting pucks away. These last two games it just wasn’t there for us.”

Forward Andrew Mayer was called for tripping at 19:28 to give Topeka a 6-on-4 powerplay, as they pulled goaltender Spencer Viele, but they were not able to tie the game.

The series now shifts to Frisco, Texas where the two teams will play again Friday night. If necessary, game four will be held Saturday night. Game five would then be played April 19 in Topeka, if the RoadRunners win both games on the road.

“We certainly dug ourselves quite a hole,” said Langer.