Bandits stop ‘Runners

Richard Kelly

A sloppy first period put the Topeka RoadRunners in quite a hole Saturday night. They never dug out.

Aided by three powerplay goals in the first period, the St. Louis Bandits took early command of the game as they defeated the RoadRunners 5-1.

Topeka (42-11-3) was able to generate scoring chances in the third period, but the damage at that point had already been done.

“It was certainly very interesting to say the least,” said Scott Langer, Topeka head coach. “I think it shows you the difference when we were five-on-five in the third; there was quite a bit more hockey going on there. We did take some penalties, [but] we probably deserved to be on the power-play quite a few times in the third. I think they [the officiating] assumed the game was just over. Five goal on 15 shots isn’t going to get you anything either. “

At 5:47, the Bandits struck first when Stephen Bopp put the puck past Rasmus Tirronen. At 10:15, Brad Smith found the back of the net while on the powerplay, putting Topeka in a 2-0 hole. Zach Scrotenboer fought to find the back of the net and was able to get the puck past Tom Comunale at 14:15 to bring the RoadRunners within a goal. But the Bandits struck back at 18:23 on another powerplay goal from Bopp.

The RoadRunners and Bandits both had 10 shots in the first period, but St. Louis held much of the momentum going into the second period. Much of this was based on the goaltending differences between Tirronen and Comunale.

At 8:07 of the second period, Kevin Crowe increased the lead to 4-1. Just over a minute later at 9:37, Smith fired a turnaround shot from the faceoff circle to put the Bandits up 5-1. Eric Rohrkemper came in to relieve Tirronen following the fifth goal. Topeka held an 11-3 shot advantage in the period, however no goals resulted from these chances.

“I don’t know if they just pressed too hard, it’s tough to say,” said Langer. “Our guys have always responded and I know they’ll respond. They’re a great group of guys. We’re not going to forget about this. We’re not going to forget about them doing the sweep dance on our ice.”

In the final period, the RoadRunners again outshot St. Louis, finishing the game with a 30-15 advantage. But the Bandits’ solid goaltending and timely goal scoring stole the show.

“When you got a team full of Division I athletes, everyone’s going to gun for you and try to prove they’re better,” said Langer. “St Louis did a great job this weekend. We just got to keep moving forward. We’ve got big things going on.”

Topeka now plays their final games of the regular season at home this Wednesday and Thursday versus the Amarillo Bulls. The games both begin at 7:05 p.m. and will be Family Fun Nights, with free parking and $1 hot dogs.