AMARILLO, Texas — The Topeka RoadRunners bounced back from a bitter loss in exhilarating fashion Thursday night in Game 3 of the South Division finals.
After blowing a three-goal lead in Game 2, the Runners earned a thrilling 3-2 overtime victory over the Amarillo Bulls on the strength of Jordan Davis’ goal at the 9:09 mark in the extra session.
The Runners, who went up 2-1 in the best-of-five series, will now have a chance to close out the series at 7 tonight in Amarillo. If the Bulls bounce back in Game 4, Topeka will host the fifth and deciding game Monday night in Landon Arena.
Kyle Sharkey and Jake Lynes helped force an Amarillo turnover, paving the way for Davis to pot his second game-winning goal of the postseason.
“It was a good forecheck by Kyle Sharkey and Jake Lynes and they ended up batting it into the air,” RoadRunners coach Scott Langer said. “Davis was in a good position and he just batted it down on his stick and put it in five-hole.”
The Bulls struck first 4:35 into the game after Brooks Behling beat Rasmus Tirronen to a loose puck on a breakaway and tapped it into the net. The RoadRunners responded at 14:06, when Brian Christie scored off a rebound.
Kyle Sharkey’s shot deflected off Amarillo goalie Nikifor Szczerba to give the Runners a 2-1 lead at 4:53 of the second period. But the lead was extremely short-lived, with the Bulls answering just five seconds later on Luke Jenkins’ shot from the left point.
However, Langer said he was pleased with how his team responded after Jenkins’ goal.
“We didn’t just sink and get all down about it,” Langer said. “We just kept going. I think they consistently got better from the second period on.”
After giving up two late power-play goals in Game 2, the Runners killed off three penalties in the third period and survived 52 seconds of a 5-on-3 Amarillo power play.
Topeka also killed off a penalty early in the overtime.
“Our penalty kill certainly upped their game today and was a big-time factor,” Langer said.
Langer said the Runners will need to stick to the same game plan in Game 4.
“We just need another consistent effort,” he said. “We know that they’re going to come out with their backs against the wall and on fire. We’re going to have to have an even better effort than we did tonight.”
Topeka’s Ryan White left the game after getting banged up in overtime.
Topeka 1 1 0 1 — 3
Amarillo 1 1 0 0 — 2
First period — 1. Amarillo, Behling (Hills, Beckman), 4:35; 2. Topeka, Christie (Milam, Poe) 14:06.
Second period — 3. Topeka, Sharkey (Bond, Davis), 4:53; 4. Amarillo, Jenkins (Erickson, Freeman), 4:58.
Third period — No scoring.
Overtime — 5. Topeka, Davis (Sharkey, Lynes), 9:09.
Shots on goal — Topeka 10-9-15-4 — 38; Amarillo 10-8-11-3 — 32.
Goalies — Topeka, Tirronen. Amarillo, Szczerba.