RoadRunners continue winning streak, defeat Tornado

Richard Kelly

The Topeka RoadRunners certainly can say they had a successful weekend.

A night removed from defeating the Texas Tornado and snapping their 15-game winning streak, Topeka (13-5-2) followed with another victory on Saturday, defeating the Tornado 5-1 at Landon Arena.

The game went scoreless early, however Topeka jumped out to a 3-0 lead following two periods, including a goal from Michael Hill, who leads Topeka with 19 goals and 35 points. He had three goals and three assists on the weekend. Rookie forward Justin Hussar also had five points on the weekend.

Topeka struggled for production early in the season, but has found a more balanced attack of late, scoring 20 goals in their last four games.

Topeka coach Scott Langer was proud of how his players stepped up in playing Texas.

“I thought our guys did a good job really buying in to what they had to do,” said Langer. “We had a lot of matchups going on out there and, for the most part, we really shut them down. Obviously the scoring of Mike Hill and the way some of our guys attacked the net tonight was huge. The D got the puck up the ice, and (Tirronen) made some huge saves when it could’ve gone the other way early.”

The three goal second period began with a Daniel Dupell goal at the 10:22 mark, followed by Hill’s first goal of two at 15:09. Joe Van Antwerp had an unassisted goal late in the second period after he made his way down the right wing and slipped a shot past Tornado goalie Jimmy Stafford to make it 3-0.

After Hill’s second goal of the night early in the third period, Texas (17-5-3) tried to make it interesting when Rock Einerson buried the puck behind Topeka goalie Rasmus Tirronen, cutting the lead to 4-1. However, Hussar fired a shot from the slot past Howard to make it 5-1 late in the third period, sealing the victory.

Topeka only allowed 24 shots on goal on the night. This was a benefit of Topeka’s defense, according to Tirronen.

“Every weekend we’re improving,” said Tirronen. “Defensively, we played amazing today. There were a couple of harder situations, but other than that, it was a pretty easy game for me.”

Langer also had the same sentiments about the team’s defensive efforts.

“Our D really bought in,” said Langer. “It was a huge change because early on our D was getting too involved. They real did a great job in taking pride in defending. (Texas) has some really high scoring guys on that team. They had to focus on shutting them down and let our forwards do the scoring.”

Topeka now hosts the Amarillo Bulls this Friday and Saturday in the final games of their six game homestand. Amarillo is coming off a 4-1 victory Wednesday night against the Tornado and sits just ahead of Topeka in the North American Hockey League’s South Division. Faceoff is at 7:05 p.m.