RoadRunners return to ice looking for leaders

With a bunch of new faces and a tough early-season schedule, the Topeka RoadRunners will be looking for new leaders right away.


After coming on strong late last season, forward Kyle Sharkey looks like a prime candidate to step into that role.

Sharkey, who led Topeka with 15 points in the postseason, will look to pick up where he left off as the RoadRunners open the preseason at 7:05 p.m. Saturday and 6:05 p.m. Sunday at Landon Arena against the University of Central Oklahoma, of the American Collegiate Hockey Association.

“At the start last year, it took a little bit of getting used to,” said Sharkey, who had 12 goals and 18 assists in during the regular season. “Toward the end, I just picked it up. This year, I feel confident coming in and look to put up some numbers.”

The RoadRunners will have plenty of voids to fill after losing their top-five scorers from last season. Sharkey, a native of Moore, Okla., said he and the other nine returners will have to pave the way for the newcomers.

“We’ve got a good group of guys coming back, and I think (the veterans) will show the young guys the ropes,” he said. “I think the guys coming in here we’ll be pretty good for us, too.”

Despite getting a boost from Sharkey, the RoadRunners hit a snag in the postseason, losing to Amarillo in the South Finals and going 0-3 in the Robertson Cup on their home ice.

Sharkey said Topeka will use its postseason troubles as motivation.

“We obviously wanted to win the whole thing here in Topeka, and it didn’t work out that way,” said Sharkey, who will turn 19 Sept. 25. “We hit a slump and got some bad bounces and all that. Coming into this year, we’re going to send a message early, and that’s the way it’s going to be all year long.

“It didn’t feel too good the way the season ended. I don’t ever want to feel like that again, and neither do the other returners. I think this year will be a lot different and we’ll stay on it and won’t taper off at the end.”

Sharkey had the offers to join the Tier I United States Hockey League but elected to stay in Topeka, citing the RoadRunners’ reputation for sending players to Division I schools.

“It was just for the family, that’s what we’re all about, the history here,” he said. “We had nine guys go to Division I colleges and you can’t beat that in the NAHL, and that’s more than some USHL teams. I believe in our coach, Scott Langer, and (assistant coach) Harry Mahood. They will get it done for anyone who needs it.”

The RoadRunners also will play two preseason games Sept. 7 and 8 at Amarillo before opening the regular season Sept. 14 against the Fresno Monsters in the North American Hockey League Showcase at Blaine, Minn.



Central Oklahoma vs. Topeka

7:05 p.m. Saturday and 6:05 p.m. Sunday at Landon Arena

Topeka at Amarillo

Sept. 7 and 8 at Amarillo



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