RoadRunners fall to Bulls for second straight night

Playing flat offensively and defensively in Friday’s tussle with the Amarillo Bulls, the Topeka RoadRunners looked to respond Saturday on Teddy Bear Toss night at Landon Arena.

 

Topeka, instead, couldn’t handle Amarillo, falling 5-2.

Despite taking an early third-period lead, Topeka (11-16-3) gave up four unanswered goals in the final stanza.

Topeka looked to have the momentum early in the third, with a shot from forward Jeff Makowski deflecting off a Bulls player and past goaltender Nikita Babintsev for a 2-1 lead at 3:06.

Two Amarillo (10-13-7) goals swung the momentum back in the Bulls’ favor at the 4:18 and 6:58 marks, with Amarillo forwards Jake Nitche and Cole Lussier making it 3-2, leaving the third period up for grabs.

Amarillo put the game out of reach with two more tallies at 13:25 and 16:24 from forward Brendan Walkom and Lussier, deflating Topeka’s chances of a comeback.

“We lost focus in the third period,” RoadRunners coach Josh Kamrass said. “We didn’t play our style of hockey, and it showed.”

Kamrass said he knows his team is a talented group, but he is disappointed in the work ethic to this point in the season.

“It’s a group effort,” Kamrass said. “I think too many guys on our team right now think their skill alone is going to be the trick, and at this level, it’s not. The guys that excel are the guys that work hard, not just the guys with skill.”

Topeka forward Devon Fields started off the scoring halfway through the first period, at the 11:48 mark. Forward Nick Granowicz notched an assist on the play, as he fed Fields with a pass to the slot that beat Babintsev.

Amarillo had plenty of scoring opportunities in the first to tie it, with three posts clanked, but the Bulls couldn’t find the back of the net. Topeka also dinged a shot off the post in the period.

RoadRunners goaltender Ryan Snowden had a solid first period in the net, tallying 16 saves. Snowden ended the night with 36 saves on 40 shots.

With a struggling defense, the Runners narrowly held on to the lead until the midway point of the second period.

A 3-on-2 rush led to the equalizer, as forward Eric Cooley ripped a shot past Snowden from the slot at ­­­12:26. Cooley’s goal was set up by a drop pass by forward Phil Fromberger, who put the puck right on Cooley’s stick.

Topeka now heads into the holiday break. The Runners return to action Dec. 30 at Landon Arena.

Amarillo (10-13-7) … 0… 1 … 4 … — … 5

Topeka (11-16-3) … 1 … 0 … 0 … — … 2

First period — 1. Topeka, Fields (Granowicz, Frantti), 11:48.

Second period — 1. Amarillo, Cooley (Fromberger, Nehls), 12:26.

Third period — 2. Topeka, Makowski (Frantti, Fields), 3:06. 2. Amarillo, Nitche (unassisted), 4:18. 3. Amarillo, Lussier (Fromberger), 6:58. 4. Amarillo, Walkom, (Crowder, Mika), 13:25. 5. Amarillo, Lussier (Cooley), 16:24.

Shots on goal — Amarillo 15-9-16 — 40. Topeka 4-8-10 — 22.

Goalies: Amarillo, Babintsev. Topeka, Snowden.

Attendance — 428.

Stars of the game: First star: Devon Fields. Second star: Cole Lussier. Third star: Nigel Nelson.

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