‘Runners lead series 2-0

Controlling the play Forward Brian Christie skates past two Texas Tornado defenders on Saturday night. Christie registered an assist in Friday night’s contest and fired two shots on goal on Saturday as Topeka won 2-1 and 4-2 respectively to take a 2-0 lead in the NAHL semifinals.

Richard Kelly / Washburn Review

The Topeka RoadRunners are currently sitting in the driver’s seat of the NAHL South Division semifinals.

Aided greatly by forward Jake Lynes, Topeka pulled off a dramatic 2-1 overtime victory on Friday night and escaped with a 4-2 victory Saturday to take a 2-0 series lead against the Texas Tornado in this best-of-five series.

“[Goaltender] Peter Traber made some huge stops for us tonight, which is so nice to see,” said Scott Langer, Topeka head coach. “Then Jake Lynes again found a way to give us the big one tonight. I like the vibe of our team right now.”

Lynes, who had 15 goals in 59 regular season games this year, has three goals in the first two games of the series. His shooting percentage is currently .500, as he has six shots in the series. He scored the game-winning goals Friday and Saturday night and also notched the first Topeka goal Saturday.

“It’s definitely been good to have the hot stick. I’m just throwing everything on net,” said Lynes. “It’s been a fun playoffs for me so far.”

Lynes started the scoring on Saturday at 14:59 of the first period when he fired a wrist shot from the right wing past Texas goaltender Frederick Leisner. Topeka led 5-3 in shots on goal after the opening period.

In the second period, forward Sean Gaffney gave Topeka a 2-0 lead at 3:08 when he took a drop pass from forward Kyle Sharkey and fired a wrist shot past Leisner. This would end the night for Leisner, as he was then replaced by goaltender Joakin Jutras.

Following a cross checking penalty on forward James Ring at 6:21, Texas forward Mychal Monteith cut the Topeka lead to 2-1 with a powerplay goal at the 8 minute mark. The rest of the period remained scoreless, despite multiple chances for both teams.

In the third period, Texas looked to grabbed the momentum, as forward Drew Mayer slipped a shot past goaltender Peter Traber to tie the contest at two at 2:22. Not to be outdone, Lynes gave the lead back to Topeka at 12:34 when he redirected a shot from defenseman Kevin Patterson that found its way past Jutras.

“Luke Veitch did a great job getting that shot through,” said Lynes. “I got a piece of it, and it threw the goalie off. I was lucky enough to find the back of the net.”

With just over a minute left, Texas pulled Jutras in favor of an extra attacker. The move backfired, as forward Kyle Sharkey finished off the Tornado with an emptynet goal at 19:49.

Traber improves to 2-0-0 in the playoffs with the victory, as he stopped 20 of 22 shots on Saturday. Jutras was credited with the loss, falling to 0-1-0 in the playoffs, despite stopping 12 of 13 shots to Leisner’s five of seven shots.

The series continues with game 3 on Thursday night in Frisco, Texas. Langer said his team must bring its physical and defensive game.

“I think we can be a little more physical,” said Langer. “Especially against their two talented lines, I thought we lacked physicality. Our defensive zone also needs to be cleaned up, because some of the chances we gave up this weekend were huge.”