RoadRunners' Hill out for season

RoadRunners' forward Michael Hill will miss the NHAL playoffs with a concussion that may also threaten his career.

Injured Topeka RoadRunners’ captain Michael Hill will be out for the rest of the season, RoadRunners coach Scott Langer confirmed Tuesday.


Hill sustained a concussion in a March 12 game at Amarillo. Since then his symptoms have worsened, forcing him to leave Topeka for treatment.

“Mike Hill will be season-ending, unfortunately, and possibly career (ending) at this point,” Langer said. “We’re all praying that things get better for him, and voluntarily, he’s fully functional and back on the ice.”

The 20-year-old forward led the RoadRunners with 37 goals and tied for the team lead in points with 66, despite missing 15 games.

After scoring a team-high 31 goals last season, Hill was selected as the ninth overall pick in the United States Hockey League draft but chose to finish out his junior hockey career in Topeka.

Hill, who has committed to play Division I hockey at Alaska-Fairbanks, explained in an October interview why he elected to remain a RoadRunner rather than join the Waterloo Black Hawks of the tier 1 USHL.

“My heart’s always been in Topeka,” Hill told the Capital-Journal. “I’ve always felt really connected with the coaches, the staff and the owner (Don Stone) here.

“I really wanted to be here to lead this team this year.”

In what proved to be a roller coaster ride of a season for the Fort Worth, Texas native, Hill helped guide the Runners through a rough patch early in the season and get the team back to the top of the South Division.

However, Hill experienced several setbacks in the second half of the season. He missed two straight games in December with an injury and was suspended seven games for a cross-checking hit on Amarillo’s Derek Hills in his first game back from the injury.

After returning from the suspension, Hill and the red-hot Runners were cruising along until they met up with the Amarillo Bulls in their last road series of the season in Amarillo.

During the RoadRunners’ second to last road game of the season, Amarillo’s Brooks Behling delivered a cross check to the face of Hill, dislocating his jaw. The hit, which looked eerily similar to the one that Hill was suspended for earlier in the season, resulted in a five-game suspension for Behling.

With Hill in the stands, still holding out hope he could return to the RoadRunners, the Runners dropped three straight games in Topeka before finishing the season with a 4-2 win against the Bulls to clinch the North American Hockey League’s Regular Season title.

Hill tied for sixth in the league in scoring during the regular season and was named NAHL South Division Player of the Week three times.

The RoadRunners (43-12-3) will begin the first-round of the NAHL playoffs this weekend when they host the Wichita Falls Wildcats for Games 1 and 2 of a best-of-five series. Topeka will host the NAHL’s Robertson Cup, which determines the league’s champion, May 2-8.



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