An eventful first period led the way Friday night at Landon Arena.
The visiting Amarillo Bulls scored a goal only 1:04 into the match and the Topeka RoadRunner’s leading scorer Michael Hill also wound up with a game ejection as Amarillo defeated Topeka 3-2.
With equal shots on both sides, the game came down to effort, according to Topeka coach Scott Langer.
“We had a handful of guys that really didn’t bring their full effort tonight and other guys were trying to make up for it,” said Langer. “We just weren’t working together. I don’t think we were very good tonight.”
Following the early goal, Amarillo (21-5-2) also struck on a powerplay goal at the 8:01 mark as they poked a rebound behind goalie Rasmus Tirronen. Nate Milam cut the lead to one at the 15:24 mark as the first period came to a close.
Langer said the loss of Hill wasn’t the ultimate reason for his team’s loss, but it did cause some confusion.
“You had guys playing on different lines tonight,” said Langer. “There was no rhythm and we were turning pucks over left and right. Any team that comes in here on the road welcomes the play we had tonight.”
After a fluke second period goal that deflected into the net off the stick of Amarillo’s Matt Johnson put the Bulls up 3-1, a third period light outage delayed the game approximately 20 minutes. At the 15:29 mark, Bob Marx pulled Topeka (19-8-2) within one goal with a shot from the point through a screen.
With less than a minute left, Topeka appeared to tie the game, but the goal was waived off as a Topeka player was tangled with Amarillo goalie Nikifor Szczerba.
Langer said his team’s urgency in the final minutes of the game was not reflected the rest of the contest.
“All the sudden at the end we became urgent and it was too late,” said Langer. “That urgency needs need to start earlier. We’re capable of playing that way all 60 minutes. It took so long to get goin’.”
Tirronen ended with 22 saves on 25 shots as Szczerba stopped 24 of 26 shots. The two teams play again tonight at 7:05 p.m.