Runners advance to South finals

Wichita Falls Wildcats Bobby Chapman (25) and Richard Young (12) battle for the puck against Topeka RoadRunners Jordan Davis (27) and Kyle Sharkey (23), during Monday night's game at Landon Arena.

After losing a pair of overtime games to Wichita Falls in Games 2 and 4 of the North American Hockey League South Division semifinals, the RoadRunners finally got a nail-biter to go their way.

 

The RoadRunners advanced to the South finals in dramatic fashion Monday night at Landon Arena, using Jordan Davis’ goal with 1:03 remaining to beat the pesky Wildcats 4-3 and win the series 3-2.

Davis’ goal came from just inside of the blue line and was his first of the postseason.

“I honestly just wanted to get it on net,” Davis said. “I saw (Kyle) Sharkey and (Davey Middleton) going to the net and I just wanted to get a rebound. It went right post and in.”

The RoadRunners then held the Wildcats in check for the minute to advance to the South finals against Amarillo.

The game was a roller-coaster ride for both teams. Wichita Falls scored the first two goals before the RoadRunners’ answered with three-straight tallies. Wichita Falls then tied the game heading into the third before Davis’ late-game heroics.

“Our guys played really well tonight,” RoadRunners coach Scott Langer said. “(The Wildcats) threw everything they had at us, and we were the team to stay on top and get it done. It was a great series.”

The Wildcats struck first at 9:42 in the first period, when Jason McAloon took advantage of a Topeka turnover and fired a shot past Rasmus Tirronen.

Wichita Falls’ then went up 2-0 when Tirronen’s intercepted pass resulted in a Richard Young goal from point-blank range at 6:01 in the second.

The RoadRunners finally broke through at 9:53 in the second when Justin Hussar converted off a rebound from Bob Marx’s shot.

Hussar’s goal seemed to get the RoadRunners going. Davey Middleton soon tied the game with a power-play goal at 11:51. Zach Schrotenboer then scored the go-ahead goal off a nice feed from Trevor Campbell at 14:01.

Hussar said he thought his goal helped loosen up the RoadRunners.

“We were all a little nervous before the game, because we didn’t want it to end here and we didn’t want to get embarrassed going into the Robertson Cup,” Hussar said. “I think it was a big-time goal. We had a line change and came out with energy, and it went in and definitely changed the momentum.”

However, the Wildcats evened the score at 14:37 after the RoadRunners failed to clear the puck on a power play, allowing Ryan Frost to go one-on-one with Tirronen and score.

The RoadRunners, who outshot the Wildcats 40-25, regrouped and put the pressure on in the third period.

“We stuck to the game plan,” Langer said. “We started turning (the Wildcats) over in the neutral zone, and every time they tried to make a play, we were coming up with it. I just thought it was a matter of time.

“Again, these guys just wouldn’t let themselves down. They found a way.”

Langer commended the play of several RoadRunners, including Davis and Hussar.

“Big players come up big,” Langer said. “Look at the game Hussar had. He’s kind of been nowhere to be found this series, and sure enough, when it counted he was there.”

Tirronen stopped 22 shots, while Tyler Green turned aside 36 for Wichita Falls.

The RoadRunners will host Amarillo in Game 1 of the South finals Friday night at Landon Arena.

 

Wichita Falls 1 2 0 — 3

Topeka 0 3 1 — 4

First period — 1. Wichita Falls, McAloon (Zornow), 9:42.

Second period — 2. Wichita Falls, Young (McAloon), 6:01; 3. Topeka, Hussar (Milam, Marx), 9:53; 4. Topeka, Middleton (Hussar, Milam), 11:51. 5.Topeka, Schrotenboer (Campbell), 14:01; 6. Wichita Falls, Frost (unassisted), 14:37.

Third period — 7. Topeka, Davis (Campbell), 18:56.

Shots on goal — Wichita Falls 6-10-9 — 25. Topeka 13-17-10 — 40.

Goalies — Wichita Falls, Green. Topeka, Tirronen.

Attendance — 1,421

 

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