After battling through a tough stretch of games to begin the season, the Topeka RoadRunners may finally be getting a break.
Topeka (9-5-2) begins a six-game homestand starting with Friday and Saturday night’s games between the RoadRunners and the New Mexico Mustangs.
Topeka has lost three out of their four home games this season and will have the opportunity to play a more favorable opponent this weekend in New Mexico, who has given up 81 goals in 19 games, as opposed to Topeka, who has given up 46 in 16 games.
With ice being available at the Kansas Expocentre over the next few weeks, RoadRunners coach Scott Langer is looking to benefit from this stretch of games, especially with the acquisition of two new players. Jordon Robertson joins the team from the United States Hockey League’s Des Moines Buccaneers and Trevor Campbell comes in from the Traverse City North Stars.
“Right now is the best time for us during the season,” said Langer. “There’s ice every day and we’re getting into a routine where the guys aren’t all over the place and running around the state to get ice. So, that should really help. And with some of the movements we have to make with our team, it’s nice to have that ice.”
Despite their record, Langer expects the Mustangs to give the RoadRunners two tough games. New Mexico (5-12-2) is coached by former NHL player Bill Mukalt.
“(Muckalt) is a pretty passionate coach, and his teams always play very hard,” said Langer. “I expect them to be highly energetic. They’re coming into our building and it seems like a lot of teams come into our building and really want to beat Topeka. We have to be on top of our game.”
Although Langer wanted to make sure he worked his team hard in practice, with a week off from games, he also wanted to ensure the players were rested for this weekend.
“We did work hard the first three days and gave them the week off,” said Langer. “I just thought it was more important for our guys to take a mental rest and come back rejuvenated. It seems like the couple practices this week has been very energetic and we like what we see. We haven’t had the best record coming off breaks, so we’re really trying to focus our game right now.”
Coming into the weekend, Topeka sits in fourth in the North American Hockey League South Division and will look to this homestand to move up in the standings. Langer expects him team to do that
“We’re trying to use this to really get going,” said Langer. “We’ve had some inconsistencies in our game. Being at home and being comfortable in front of our fans, we certainly want to get off to the right start and try to take some points and get back up where we belong.”