Runners tame Bulls behind Sharkey’s hat trick

Washburn Review

The Topeka RoadRunners made the most of late period chances Friday night.

Forward Tyler Andrew scored a goal with less than a second to play in the first period and fellow forward and linemate Kyle Sharkey scored a goal at 19:57 of the second period to help propel Topeka (14-3-2) to a 5-2 victory over the Amarillo Bulls.

Last Saturday in Amarillo, Tex., Topeka allowed four goals in the third period to Amarillo (11-2-3) as the Bulls stormed back to defeat the RoadRunners 4-3. Back from Amarillo and playing on home ice, Sharkey said Friday’s win was extra satisfying.

“After last Saturday’s game down in Amarillo, we came home and we were real sour about it,” said Sharkey, who had a hat trick in Friday’s game. “To come back and protect that lead and redeem ourselves, it was huge for our team.”

The scoring started at 8:08 of the first period when Sharkey fired a shot past goaltender Paul Berrafato. Amarillo pulled even at 15:01 when forward Tyler Deresky scored an unassisted goal. This set the stage for Andrew’s late goal, as Sharkey made a pass to an open Andrew who fired the puck past Berrafato.

Sharkey said his line’s performance on Friday was no fluke, as they had a hand in all five Topeka goals.

“[Forward Sean] Gaffney, Tyler Andrew and myself are like a family,” said Sharkey. “There’s so much team chemistry between us three. It’s so easy to play between us because there’s that camaraderie.”

Topeka head coach Scott Langer also agreed the Sharkey, Gaffney, Andrew line is one to be reckoned with.

“That line comes to work every day,” said Langer. “They just don’t take a night off, and on a night like this when you really need them, it pays dividends. They’re the first ones in line to do anything. You can really see that they’re growing together as a line.”

In the second period, Topeka mustered four shots on goal and scored on two. Defenseman Trace Strahle scored a goal from the slot at 7:08 when he ripped a shot glove side. Sharkey then knocked the puck past Berrafato at 19:57 to make it 4-1.

Looking to change momentum, forward Brandon Flood cut the lead to 4-2 at 6:33, but Sharkey finished off his hat trick at 14:31 to preserve the victory. Sharkey’s final goal was the only Topeka goal in the game not scored on the powerplay.

In the victory, goaltender Mackenzie Sawyer stopped 23 of 25 shots. In the loss, Berrafato stopped 13 of 17 shots. He was pulled in favor of goaltender Collin Delia before the beginning of the third period. Delia stopped 10 of 11 shots during his time in goal.

The two teams play again 7:05 p.m. Saturday at Landon Arena.