RoadRunners' vets saddle up for final ride

Defenseman Jacob Poe will try to lead the RoadRunners to the NAHL title.

Veteran Topeka RoadRunners’ defensemen Jacob Poe and Bob Marx have already accomplished more in junior hockey than most players will ever get the chance to achieve.

 

Now, after helping the RoadRunners put together three of their most successful seasons in franchise history, Poe and Marx are looking to end their junior hockey careers on the ultimate high note as they gear up for their final postseason run.

“We’ve been here a long time, we’re getting kind of old,” Poe said. “We’ve won a lot of games, the two of us.

“This is it. It’s our last rodeo, I guess.”

And it’s a rodeo that will begin at 7:05 p.m. Saturday in Landon Arena as the Runners kickoff a best-of-five playoffs series with the Wichita Falls Wildcats in the South Division semifinals. Topeka will host Game 2 of the series at 6:05 p.m. Sunday.

Poe and Marx, who have helped the Runners amass a sparkling record of 129-32-13 over the last three seasons, both had opportunities away from the North American Hockey League after last season. However, neither player could pass up another year with the RoadRunners.

Marx, a 20-year-old native of Sioux City, Iowa, had contemplated leaving behind hockey and starting college, but was lured back to Topeka to take another crack at the Robertson Cup, which the RoadRunners will host May 2-8.

“I knew we had the Robertson Cup this year and a lot of good players coming in,” Marx said. “The fact that the last two years we came so close and never got anything, I wanted to come back and get a national title.

Poe, 20, was offered a Division I scholarship to play this season at Alabama-Huntsville. Instead, the Arlington, Texas, native decided to return to Topeka and later committed to Connecticut.

“I figured you only get one chance to play juniors, and I can go to college whenever I want,” Poe said. “And we had a chance to win the Robertson Cup, so why not come back?”

Fresh off a season in which they set a franchise record for wins (44) and points (99), the Runners struggled a bit out of the gates this season but came alive in the second half to wrap up the NAHL regular season title with a record of 43-12-3.

By far the most playoff tested players on the team, Poe and Marx, are now trying to get the younger RoadRunners primed for the postseason.

“I think the thing Bob and I need to do is stay calm in front of the rookies, not get too excited and show them just too relax and have fun,” Poe said.

RoadRunners coach Scott Langer was quick to applaud the leadership and dedication his blue-liners have shown during their careers.

“They’re heart-and-soul guys,” Langer said. “Those two guys, they know the drill. They’re great in the community, and they’re a huge part of this team and our leadership. Guys watch how they carry themselves.

“It’s not easy to be motivated every day when you’ve been playing three years of junior hockey, but those two guys have done a great job.”

After spending the majority of the last three years in Topeka, Poe and Marx said they have built a good rapport with the city.

“It’s basically my second home,” Poe said. “I’ve been here the last few years a lot more than I’ve been home. I have a second family here, my billet family, I’ve lived with them all three years. And the fans are always there and very supportive. Couldn’t ask for more.”

Marx agreed.

“We have a great fan base and our billets have really taken us in. We have a lot of good people here and it makes us feel at home,” he said.

Game 3 of the series with the Wildcats will be Friday, April 8 in Wichita Falls, while Game 4 (if necessary) will be the following Saturday night. If the series is tied 2-2 after four games, Topeka will host Game 5 on April 11.

“We have a lot of unfinished business,” Marx said. “We’ve always finished near the top of the league (in the regular season) and now we have to show it during the playoffs.”

 

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