RoadRunners score five in third period, defeat Wildcats 5-3

Richard Kelly, Washburn Review

“Better late than never” was the motto of the Topeka RoadRunners Saturday night.

Trailing 3-0 after two periods, Topeka (18-5-4) stormed out of the gate for the third period, scoring five goals in the final 20 minutes of play, to win 5-3 at Landon Arena.

Scott Langer, RoadRunners head coach, said he talked with his team at second intermission about their character.

“Coming into the third period we just talked about believing in how good we were and how mature of a group we have,” said Langer. “We knew that if we played together and worked together that good things were going to come.”

Forward Tyler Andrew, who scored the game-winning goal at 15:26, said his team had a mindset for the third period and didn’t let off of it.

“Not one guy in our locker room quit,” said Andrew. “We just banded together like brothers and gave it everything we had in the third period.”

The game started rocky for the RoadRunners. With six seconds left in the first period, forward Eliot Grauer scored a shorthanded goal to give Wichita Falls (10-16-2) a 1-0 lead.

In the second period, just seconds after leaving the penalty box, forward Kyle Bauman took a pass leading to a breakaway and slipped a shot past goaltender Spencer Viele to make it 2-0. Less than three minutes later, forward Rudy Junda gave the Wildcats a 3-0 lead. Following the goal, Viele would be pulled in favor of goaltender Mackenzie Sawyer.

In the third period, defenseman Clint Garris started the comeback at 7:41 when his slapshot found its way past goaltender Cooper Cook. It was Garris’ first goal of the season.

At 12:14, forward Collin Montgomery scored his second goal of the season on a backhander to cut the deficit to 3-2. Forward Tyler Poulsen scored the tying goal at 15:05 when he took a cross-ice pass from defenseman Trace Strahle and snapped a shot past Cook.

Getting offensive effort from players like Montgomery is key, according to Langer.

“That’s what we need; we need everybody contributing,” said Langer. “Montgomery was on a mission tonight, and I’m proud of him.”

Andrew’s game-winner came just 19 seconds later when he carried the puck down the wing and fired a quick shot that beat Cook low-glove side. He then finished off Wichita Falls at 19:30, scoring a power play goal.

Langer said it’s important for his team to carry this momentum going forward.

“We have to believe we have the ability to do great things, because we do,” said Langer. “We really want to use tonight as a team builder.”

In the victory, Sawyer stopped all seven shots he faced. Cook stopped 35 of 40 shots in the loss.

Topeka will now travel to Springfield, Ill. to play the Jr. Blues in a two-game series next weekend.