Thanks to a few promotions that produced a large crowd, the atmosphere at Landon Arena Thursday night was a far cry from that of a typical week night game.
With 2,885 fans lured to the game by $2 tickets, $1 hot dogs and free parking, the Runners thrived in their first game at home in almost a month, cruising to a 5-0 victory against the Wichita Falls Wildcats.
“(The crowd) and the fact that we were back at home was just great for the guys,” RoadRunners coach Scott Langer said. “To have that crowd behind us was awesome and you could tell the guys were having a lot of fun out there. And when you’re having fun, you’re not stressing a lot and your game improves.”
Things got off to a rousing start, with Brian Christie ripping home a shot just 12 seconds into the game off a Nate Milam pass.
Christie agreed with Langer that the large turnout played into the Runners’ hands.
“Every one was excited to get back here after a month on the road and I think the fans we’re excited to see us,” he said. “It was a good atmosphere tonight, I liked it a lot.”
Justin Hussar, the beneficiary of a Ryan White assist from behind the net, fired in a shot at the 10:13 mark of the first period to make it 2-0 and the Runners never looked back.
Topeka, which maintained a 12-point lead in the South Division standings on a record of 38-9-3 and 79 points, outshot Wichita Falls 13-4 in the first period to set the tone.
“We were really excited in the last two days of practice to be in our locker room, on our ice and not traveling. We just keyed on that and wanted to continue that energy and excitement in the first period,” Langer said. “I thought we had a really good first period, which really put them on their heels. “
RoadRunners’ captain Michael Hill gave Topeka a three-score cushion with a power-play goal at 13:13 of the second period. Milam then lit the lamp a minute and one second into the third before Hill struck again on a one-timer at the 11:11 mark to account for the final score.
Rasmus Tirronen notched his fourth shutout of the year, turning aside 19 shots for Topeka. Wichita Falls goalie Tyler Green was credited with 33 saves.
The RoadRunners will host the Wildcats again at 7:05 tonight. Fans are encouraged to wear orange to the game to support MS awareness.
Wichita Falls ...0 ...0 ...0... --... 0
Topeka ...2 ...1 ...2 ...-- ...5
First period -- 1. Topeka, Christie (Milam), 0:12; 2. Topeka, Hussar (White), 10:13.
Second period -- 3. Topeka, Hill (Poe), 13:33.
Third period -- 4. Topeka, Milam (Sharkey), 1:31; 5. Topeka, Hill (White), 11:11.
Shots on goal -- Wichita Falls 4-5-10 -- 19. Topeka 13-13-12 -- 38.
Goalies -- Wichita Falls, Green. Topeka, Tirronen,
Stars of the game -- First: Hill. Second: Tirronen. Third: Milam.
Attendance -- 2,885.