Amarillo rallies late for 4-3 win over Runners

Before the South Division finals began, the Topeka RoadRunners’ coaching staff warned their team that no lead is safe against the Amarillo Bulls.

 

The RoadRunners saw firsthand just how perseverant the Bulls can be Saturday night at Landon Arena.

Amarillo stormed back from a three-goal deficit, scoring four goals in a breathtaking three-minute span of the third period, to shock the RoadRunners 4-3 and even the series at a game apiece.

The RoadRunners were cruising for most of the game with Amarillo spending much of their time killing off penalties. Then, T.J Sarcona finally injected some life into the Bulls with a goal at the 10:36 mark of the third period. A minute and four seconds later, Dan McDougall brought the Bulls within a goal.

Then came the back-breakers.

Zach Smoot and Cody Freeman scored back-to-back power-play goals to complete the astounding comeback. Smoot’s goal came at the 12:40 mark and Freeman scored the game-winner 58 seconds later to leave the Runners wondering what had happened.

“I don’t think it was us falling asleep, I think it was more of us getting a little sloppy with the puck and not managing it well,” RoadRunners assistant coach R.J. Enga said. “They’ve got a good team, good enough to capitalize on some of those mistakes.”

The RoadRunners had countless opportunities to further extend their lead, including two 5-on-3 advantages. But Topeka finished just 2-for-11 on the power play, while Amarillo was 2-for-5.

“That looms in your head when you look back at your power-play opportunities that you didn’t capitalize on,” Enga said. “I’m hoping we’ll learn from this and move forward so that when we do get those opportunities again, we’ll have a little bit more bite.

“We need to get better at penalty killing, winning face-offs and getting sticks in the passing lines. All those little fine-tuned things in the special teams need to start coming through.”

The Runners drew first blood at 13:44 of the first period when Justin Hussar fired in a loose puck.

The game was then halted for about 20 minutes when the lights in the arena went out with 3:47 remaining in the first period while Amarillo was on a power play. After the delay, the Runners proceeded to kill off the penalty and later took a 2-0 lead after Jordan Davis tossed the puck down to Kyle Sharkey, who rifled a shot past Nikifor Szczerba with just 39 seconds left in the period.

Amarillo then gave the Runners a huge opportunity right off the bat in second period when Amarillo forward Joe Kozlack was given a five-minute major and game misconduct penalty for head-butting. The Runners took advantage, taking a 3-0 lead at the 2:16 mark when Brian Christie scored on a rebound off Bob Marx’s shot.

The series will shift to Amarillo. The Bulls will host Game 3 at 7 p.m. Thursday. Game 4 will be Friday night at Amarillo and Game 5 (if necessary) will be April 25 in Topeka.

Enga said the RoadRunners will have to forget about the loss quickly.

“There’s no time to dwell on it,” he said. “Now it’s a best-of-three series.”

Amarillo 0 0 4 — 4

Topeka 2 1 0 — 3

First period — 1. Topeka, Hussar (Milam, Christie), 13:44. 2. Topeka, Sharkey (Davis), 19:21.

Second period — 3. Topeka, Christie (Marx, Middleton), 2:16.

Third period — 4. Amarillo, Sarcona (Rogge), 10:36; 5. Amarillo, McDougall (Smoot, Jenkins), 11:40; 6. Amarillo, Smoot (Hills, Freeman), 12:40. 7. Amarillo, Freeman (Beckman, Hills), 13:28.

Shots on goal — Amarillo 10-3-12 — 25; Topeka 11-8-6 — 25.

Goalies — Amarillo, Szczerba. Topeka, Tirronen.

Attendance — 1,624.

Stars of the game — First star: Freeman. Second star: Smoot. Third star: Christie.

NFL Pick'Em
 

More

Sun, 09/24/2017 - 20:35

WU soccer wins third straight

The Washburn soccer team earned its third straight win with a 2-0 victory on Sunday at Nebraska-Kearney.

Read more
Sun, 09/24/2017 - 21:32

Chiefs start hot, beat Chargers 24-10