‘Runners look to stop Tornado streak

Richard Kelly


The Topeka RoadRunners are about to have their toughest test so far this season.

A week after the RoadRunners defeated the New Mexico Mustangs 6-3 and 4-1 on Friday and Saturday nights respectively, Topeka (11-5-2) now hosts the Texas Tornado, who are riding a 15-game winning streak coming into Friday’s contest.

Texas (17-2-3) is coming off a 5-4 road win Wednesday over the Wichita Falls Wildcats and brings a multitude of scoring threats and has the league’s top goaltender, Jimmy Kruger, who has a 1.73 goals against average.

Topeka coach Scott Langer has had his team looking at all areas of Texas this week.

“We’ve broken them down,” said Langer. “You name it, we’ve broken it down. Coach (Tony) Curtale does a great job there. And they’re talented because of maturity in the lineup. They have quite a few veteran hockey players.

“You know, they have the ability to score and they picked up a very good goaltender who has allowed them to be offensive this year. They’re good on the specialty teams. They’ve had some games where they put up seven or eight goals. Defensively, we’re going to have to be very tough.”

And defensively for the RoadRunners, they’ve solidified themselves with newcomer Trevor Campbell. Campbell, who is from Kansas City, Mo., was an assistant captain for the Traverse City North Stars prior to coming to Topeka and made an immediate impact this past weekend.

“He plays like a pro,” said Langer. “He knows what his job is. He takes pucks to the net and he’s a good first-pass guy. His physical demeanor allowed him to lay out some of the biggest hits we’ve seen all season.”

His presence may have also helped to lead the RoadRunners to a greater physical level this past weekend. Langer didn’t see this from his team early on in the year, including the last time they played Texas.

“We’re a lot grittier, we work harder, and we’ve gelled a lot more in our lines,” said Langer. “We’re still working on that balanced scoring which needs to come. But we’re getting a lot better efforts from guys right now.”

Topeka was only six games into the season the first time they played the Tornado this season. Texas won both games that home opening weekend in Topeka.

“We probably should have won at least one of those hockey games,” said Langer. “We let up some real poor goals. It’s a game of mistakes. If we make too many, we’re not going to be on the good side of things.”

Both games this weekend start at 7:05 p.m. Friday is college night, which $1 beers and a 10 percent discount on tickets for all college students with a valid college ID.