“On the Road Again” by Willie Nelson may have accurately represented the Topeka RoadRunners schedule just weeks ago.
They now find themselves at home in 12 of their next 14 games.
Fresh off a 6-2 victory over the North American Hockey League’s hottest team last Saturday, the Amarillo Bulls, Topeka (13-7-2) looks to start a winning streak Friday night when they face the Springfield Jr. Blues at Landon Arena.
This past weekend’s series ended Topeka’s long road trip to begin the season, as they played 18 of their first 20 games away from home. In their first game at home since Oct.8, Topeka dropped Friday’s contest 5-3 before rebounding Saturday.
This week has been a nice change for the team, according to Topeka head coach Scott Langer.
“We’ve been able to work on a lot of the small things that we’re missing from our game,” said Langer. “With having this home structure, obviously we do a lot of the video work and try to get on the same page. It’s been great for us.”
Veteran Topeka defenseman Cory Ramsey also knows being on home ice will improve the team’s consistency.
“Being at home, we can get into a routine,” said Ramsey. “Lots of travel causes fatigue, we’ve got a bunch of guys out with injuries. But it’s nice to get into a routine at home where we can work on sticking to game plans.”
Springfield (8-12-1) enters Friday’s contest ranked fourth in the NAHL Midwest Division, while Topeka is third in the NAHL South Division. The Jr. Blues are paced by forward Kyle Cook, who has 10 goals and 14 assists on the season.
“They have a lot of high-quality veteran hockey players that have the ability to score,” said Langer. “We know that they’re going to come in with energy. We’re just going to stick to our game and try to be consistent like we were on Saturday.”
Topeka is paced by veteran forward Ryan White who has eight goals and 19 assists on the season. He is tied for fourth place in the NAHL in scoring.
Goaltenders Josh Hillegas and Peter Traber have recently traded off on goaltending duties, as Langer has not yet determined a number one starter. Hillegas and Traber will presumably both get a chance to start this weekend.
And while it’s only one game in a long season, Langer is satisfied his team was able to put together a complete effort against Amarillo this past Saturday.
“We have good hockey players here, we know that,” said Langer. “We’ve just been stricken by some unfortunate luck. It was great confident-wise. We got that monkey off our back.”
MS Night with the RoadRunners
Friday night is also MS Night with the RoadRunners. Students from the Washburn University have been working towards a goal of selling 500 tickets for the game and have sold roughly 100 so far. They are also hoping to sell 250 t-shirts to benefit Multiple Sclerosis awareness in northeast Kansas. Portions of the proceeds for both will benefit the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. The MS Society: Mid America Chapter – Eastern Kansas Branch has been in direct work with them on the project.
If interested in purchasing a ticket for tonight’s contest through the Washburn students or if interested in buying a t-shirt at tonight’s game, contact Rachel Hageman at [email protected] or visit http://www.facebook.com/events/105136162931522/.