The Topeka RoadRunners found themselves facing similar frustrations this past weekend at Landon Arena.
When all was said and done, Topeka (19-7-5) was left with plenty of questions as to where it goes from here, as they fell 3-2 in overtime Friday and 3-1 Saturday to the North American Hockey League South Division leading Amarillo Bulls.
“It’s tough to swallow,” said Scott Langer, RoadRunners head coach. “We don’t usually get in these situations (at home). We’ve got to keep going. Obviously I think the changes we’ve made have shown improvements, and now we’ve got to keep going.”
Early in Saturday’s contest, Topeka trailed, as Amarillo forward Mike Davis scored at 10:36 to make it 1-0. In the second period, at 15:35, forward Ryan Cole tallied a shorthanded goal to make it 2-0.
“When you hand them (Amarillo) a shorthanded goal, it’s very difficult to get back in it,” said Langer.
Attempting to add life to the RoadRunners’ offense, forward Brandon Brossoit raced into the Amarillo zone and scored a shorthanded goal of his own at 9:56 of the third period, sending a shower of teddy bears to the ice. The 700-plus bears were donated to the Topeka Rescue Mission following the game.
The goal came too little, too late though. Forward Omar Mullan notted an emptynet goal at 19:45 to seal the game for Amarillo (23-3-3.)
In Friday’s contest, Davis also put Topeka behind early, scoring at 13:04 of the first period. Forward Kyle Sharkey knotted the score at 17:29 with a powerplay goal, leaving the score 1-1 at first intermission.
In the second period, Davis scored again, registering a powerplay goal at 6:10. Topeka only mustered 11 shots on goal in the first two periods.
A little over halfway through the third period, at 12:41, forward Sean Gaffney tied the game for Topeka when his shot found its way past Amarillo goaltender Chad Catt. This goal held for the remainder of regulation, as the game went to overtime tied at two.
In overtime, forward John Rey took a slick pass from Cole and tipped it past goaltender Spencer Viele, as Amarillo grabbed the victory.
Viele stopped 47 of 52 shots on the weekend. Catt stopped 18 of 20 shots for the victory Friday, while Amarillo goaltender Paul Berrafato stopped 21 of 22 shots on Saturday.
Topeka will now have two weeks to regroup before their next weekend series versus the Springfield Jr. Blues December 28-29.
“I think right now, it’s time for these guys to decompress a little bit,” said Langer. “It’s been a long first half.
“I want them to come back hungry and come back prepared. This league has always been about your second half run.”