The Topeka RoadRunners looked destined for a blowout victory Friday night.
Unfortunately, hockey isn’t a 20 minute contest.
The Wichita Falls Wildcats used timely scoring and battled back to tie Topeka (17-5-4) at three in regulation, eventually winning 4-3 in overtime.
The loss was indicative of multiple games for the RoadRunners this season, where inconsistent play made the difference.
“We’re up-and-down even in the course of 60 minutes,” said Scott Langer, RoadRunners head coach. “When you have a chance to put away a team at home, and you don’t, it’s going to add up in the end.”
The game started positive for Topeka, as forward Tyler Andrew scored on at 1:20 on a shot over the shoulder of goaltender Evan Cowley. Defenseman Michal Pastor then fired a shot from the point at 8:09 that beat Cowley.
Wichita Falls (10-15-2) got back into the game with a goal at 16:02 by forward George Pagonis, but Topeka held a 17-5 shot advantage at the end of the period.
The second period, the RoadRunners struggled to muster offense, but forward Sean Gaffney scored on a backhanded shot at 6:28 to put Topeka up 3-1. At 15:01, forward Will Vosejpka snuck a shot past goaltender Mackenzie Sawyer to make it 3-2.
In the third period, a powerplay goal by Erik Ouellette at 9:26 tied the game. Topeka had its chances to win late but couldn’t slip a shot past Cowley.
Topeka’s struggles to find the back of the net are indicative of their season so far, as they only have two players with more than eight goals, Gaffney and forward Kyle Sharkey.
“We should’ve been up by quite a bit after the first and it only ended being up 2-1,” said Langer. “(Wichita Falls) is a team that just stayed consistent in its approach. I felt that a couple of goals we gave up were pretty soft, and we just couldn’t capitalize (on chances).”
In overtime, Topeka defenseman Mick Bruce was called for hooking at 1:35. This set up forward Conor O’Neil’s the game-winning goal at 2:01.
In a losing effort, Sawyer stopped 25 of 29 shots, as Cowley stopped 34 of 37 shots to get the victory.
The two teams will face off again at 7:05 p.m. Saturday.