RoadRunners chasing elusive championship

Richard Kelly

Maybe the third time will be the charm for the Topeka RoadRunners.

Looking to build off of a strong season last year and many offseason acquisitions, the North American Hockey League’s Topeka RoadRunners will play their first regular season home game at the Kansas Expocentre’s Landon Arena this Friday night at 7:05 p.m. against the Texas Tornado.

The RoadRunners opened their season on Sept. 17 and played four games in four days through Sept. 20 at the annual NAHL Showcase. The RoadRunners lost their first game of the tournament, but bounced back in games two and three and lost their fourth in a shootout to come away with a 2-1-1 record. And this past weekend, the team made its way to Frisco, Texas to take on the Texas Tornado and after a weekend of winning one game and losing one game, the team now holds a 3-2-1 record going into this weekend’s games.

The team returns eight players from last year’s squad but is a predominantly young team that may take a few weeks to gel as the season begins. But the team hopes to see positive production out of returning players including Alec Hagaman, Jeff Burke and newly selected captain of the team Kurtis Anton. The aforementioned Hagaman leads the team with three goals and one assist for four points and is also tied with three other players who have four points apiece. A slew of RoadRunners are right behind them with three points, so production has been by a variety of players.

But for most, it’s hard to find the time or money to catch a game with already so much on their schedules. Tickets though start at $10 for a single game, so it’s easy to not break the bank. It should be noted though that there is a five dollar parking charge, so carpooling is advocated.

Also, the RoadRunners provide promotions at select games. Some upcoming promotions include WIBW’s Radio Cash Machine on Saturday, Breast Cancer Awareness Night on Oct. 22, Team Poster Night on Oct. 23 and Halloween Costume Night on Oct. 24, said Arch Ecker, director of media and broadcasting for the RoadRunners.

Kansas isn’t exactly a hotbed for hockey, but a loyal fan base exists for the RoadRunners, as they averaged about 1,700 fans last year. Ecker said the RoadRunners are looking to increase that number for this season and welcome anyone who has never been to a hockey game to come out to at least one.

“[Hockey’s] a combination of fluid movement and graceful skill combined with speed and bone jarring contact. The atmosphere at a RoadRunner game is vibrant, and a delight to the senses,” said Ecker. “We have the best fans in the NAHL and our home ice advantage is second to none. It’s more than just a game, when you come to a RoadRunner game, it’s an event.”