Milam lifts Runners past Bulls in OT

Topeka RoadRunners forward Nate Milam has been waiting all year to break out.

 

The fact that Milam picked the postseason to catch fire is one of the main reasons the RoadRunners are now up 1-0 in the South Division finals.

Milam potted two goals, including the game-winner in overtime, to help the Runners pull out a thrilling 3-2 victory against the Amarillo Bulls in Game 1 of the South Division on Friday night at Landon Arena.

The Runners appeared to have the game wrapped up in regulation but the Bulls knotted the score with 1:22 left in the game, forcing the Runners into their third overtime game of the season.

Topeka then continually knocked on the door, before Milam’s shot found the back of the net at 14:07 after Brian Christie drove to the net and produced a rebound.

“The puck squirted out and I just went and put it on net,” Milam said. “I didn’t see it go in but I saw the puck go between (Amarillo goalie Nikifor Szczerba’s) legs and he must have kicked it in.”

After having what he considered to be a sub-par regular season, Milam has scored a team-high six goals for the RoadRunners in the postseason.

“I feel like I should have been doing this all season, but it was kind of slow for me,” Milam said. “It wasn’t like I was down on myself, but I felt like I should be up there with Mike (Hill) and helping him lead during the season. But it’s coming to me now, and it feels good.”

RoadRunners coach Scott Langer said Milam’s surge has been a huge lift for the RoadRunners.

“Before we even started, we set some goals for him through the playoffs, and he’s on the way to achieving them,” he said. “When Nate’s going, he’s a competitor and he just doesn’t stop. He showed up big again.”

Amarillo scored the first goal of the series on Brandon Lubin’s power-play goal at 3:15 of the first period.

Jordan Davis, who notched the series-clinching goal Monday night against Wichita Falls, cleaned up Kyle Sharkey’s rebound with a back-hander to even the score at the 11:51 mark of the second.

Milam, the beneficiary of Justin Hussar’s pass from the behind the net, lit the lamp midway through the third period to give the RoadRunners a 2-1 lead. The Runners then held off several Amarillo charges before Matt Johnson scored on an odd-man rush to send the game into overtime.

Langer said he was pleased with the way his team regrouped for overtime.

“It’s such a heartbreaker when you play that well and then have a breakdown,” he said. “I was upset, but it is what it is. You can’t change it. We just focused on what we were doing well and what we needed to do to execute.

RoadRunners goalie Rasmus Tirronen stopped 22 of 24 shots while Szczerba turned aside 37 of 40.

The Runners played their fourth straight game without injured defenseman Cory Ramsey.

Topeka will host Game 2 at 7:05 p.m. tonight.

 

Amarillo 1 0 1 0 -- 2

Topeka 0 1 1 1 -- 3

First period -- 1. Amarillo, Lubin (Sherer, Johnson), 3:15.

Second period -- 2. Topeka, Davis (Sharkey, Middleton), 11:51.

Third period -- 3. Topeka, Milam (Hussar, Christie), 7:19; 4. Amarillo, Johnson (Smoot, Hills), 18:44.

Overtime -- 5. Topeka, Milam (unassisted), 14:07.

Shots on goal -- Amarillo 5-3-10-6 – 24. Topeka 11-9-10-10 – 40.

Goalies — Amarillo, Szczerba. Topeka, Tirronen.

Attendance -- 1,772.

Stars of the game -- First star: Milam. Second star: Davis. Third star: Johnson.

See more photos at Spotted.CJOnline.com
 

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