RoadRunners ready for Hill's return

Early in the season, the Topeka RoadRunners’ faithful would have cringed at the thought of losing Michael Hill for an extended amount of time.

 

But with their captain and leading scorer serving a suspension from the league for a cross-checking hit, the Runners have proven they have plenty of other weapons to help share the load.

Topeka has won five consecutive games since Hill’s suspension and now has a one-point lead on first place in the South Division standings after last weekend’s sweep of Amarillo.

The RoadRunners begin a seven-game homestand against Wichita Falls at 7:05 p.m. Thursday in Landon Arena. Hill will then return to action for Friday’s game with the Wildcats.

RoadRunners coach Scott Langer said he’s been pleased with how his team has responded to Hill’s absence but is looking forward to his captain’s return.

“We stuck together and other guys stepped up,” he said. “(Hill being out) allowed other guys to show what they can bring to the table when we put them in those different roles. We’re much more of a balanced hockey team right now. But there’s no question that adding Mike Hill back to the lineup is huge for us.”

With Hill carrying the load for the early part of the season, Langer said the depth of the RoadRunners has now become one of their strong points.

One RoadRunner who has stepped up his contribution is Zach Schrotenboer, who has racked up 14 points in the his past eight games.

“You look at (Schrotenboer), he’s got an (eight)-game point streak going, and you can insert him on any line and he can play every role,” Langer said. “Adding Hill just allows him to continue what’s he doing, just maybe on a different line.

“We have a lot of interchangeable pieces, even on our special teams, which is kind of what we’re used to, R.J. (Enga) and I, being able to coach that kind of depth.”

Wichita Falls comes into Topeka with a record of 17-16-3. The Runners are 2-0 against the Wildcats, but Langer is expecting a battle.

“They always play you tough,” he said. “They’re in your face and always adjusting. I’m not looking at their record at all. You look what they did early in the year and you know they have (talent). We just cannot overlook this hockey team.”

Mac Olson and Ryan Frost lead the Wildcats in scoring with 36 points on the season. Hill has registered 43 points for the RoadRunners and Just Hussar has contributed 40 points.

Thursday night will be Family Fun Night, featuring $1 hot dogs and free parking.

 

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