‘Runners can’t handle Bulls, fall 5-3

Richard Kelly

The Amarillo Bulls continue to dominate the North American Hockey League.

Friday night, the Topeka RoadRunners couldn’t put together complete performance to defeat the Bulls, as Amarillo (15-1-2) knocked off Topeka 5-3. Topeka (12-7-2) has now gone winless in their last six games with Amarillo, dating back to the NAHL South Division playoffs.

Topeka head coach Scott Langer acknowledged his team’s difficulties early in the contest.

“It was probably three shifts [in the first period] that really cost us and we gave up a couple of softies there that put the momentum back on their side,” said Langer. “Our guys came out and had good energy, but [the Bulls] are a good team. You let your guard down once, they’re going to score.”

Topeka forward Ryan White was able to put the ‘Runners on top 1-0 at 1:37 of the first period, but that would be their only lead of the contest. Amarillo struck back with goals at 10:23 and 14:35 to give Amarillo the lead.

Forward Dan Dupell tied the game only minutes later at 16:49, but at 17:23, Amarillo fired right back to regain the lead.

Much of Topeka’s difficulty in the contest would come from goaltending, as starting goaltender Josh Hillegas gave up all five goals on 16 shots.

“Goaltending was not sharp, with the first five goals for sure. I think that was the difference,” said Langer. “[Amarillo goalie Grant Gruehl] made some big stops and we had our chances.”

In the second period, the deficit grew as Topeka gave up goals at 9:53 and 12:24 to put Amarillo in control.

The third period appeared to swing in the RoadRunners’ favor when forward Jake Lynes scored a shorthanded goal at 1:24, but that would be the closest they’d come.

Opportunities were aplenty for the RoadRunners in the third period despite only scoring the lone goal.

“I thought our third period was pretty good, but we had four wide open nets and couldn’t bury the puck,” said Langer. “A couple of those [chances] could have definitely made a difference in the game.”

Topeka finished with a 27-25 shot advantage. The two teams play again Saturday night as Topeka looks to rebound. Puck drop is at 7:05 p.m.