Texas TornadoHead Coach Tony Curtale summed up the Tornado play of late following the team’s eighth straight loss. “You have to play better, you have to compete better and perform against the teams we are battling for first and second place,” said Curtale. “So far that hasn’t happened.”
The first period the team in the gold sweaters looked like the Tornado of the 15 wins in 16 games streak rather than the team that is winless in February. They controlled the play for much of the first 20 minutes and potted the only goal of the period. The goal came on the power play which was a bright spot as well. At the 12:30 mark Jackson Leef stripped the puck from a Topeka defender behind the Roadrunner’s net and skated it out the near side into the corner. Leef curled under the defender to the near faceoff dot and ripped it past Mackenzie Sawyer glove side.Topeka got on the board early in the second to pull even on a Kevin Patterson slapshot from the far point that went off the shaft of Mitch McPherson’s stick in front and redirected past Hunter Leisner. Time of the goal was 2:15 with the assists going to Patrick Pollock and Tyler Poulsen. The Roadrunners scored a controversial goal to take the lead at 7:20. On the play Brandon Brossoit came in on a breakaway and fired a wrister from the high slot with Anthony Mousseau on his hip. Leisner made the save and had the puck frozen, but Brossoit fell on the shot and slammed into Leisner knocking the puck loose and pushing both the puck and Leisner into the net.
At 13:49 Scott Conway took a pass at the near side half wall from Mousseau and put out a tremendous individual effort to carry the puck past defenders, behind the net and wrapped a backhander around the far post. Nick Neville picked up the secondary assist on the play. The period ended with a scrum in front of theTopeka goal that resulted in fighting penalties to Jason Eddy, Brossoit and Sawyer. Sawyer also picked up a match penalty for fighting with his blocker and Eddy received a slashing minor. The result was that the teams started the third skating four on four.
At the two minute mark of the third the minor to Eddy expired putting Texas on a three minute power play that they were unable to capitalize on. Just 32 seconds after the power play ended, Brandon Platt fanned on an attempt to hold the zone at the near point and Poulsen turned it into a lone man rush up the ice. Poulsen lost an edge and went down but rolled right back onto his skates and continued to the net where he put a back hander past Leisner. At 10:17 Poulsen once again broke through the defense on an odd man rush. Mousseau tried to get back and got the stick on Poulsen who still got off a decent shot which Leisner kicked aside. With Mousseau on his way to the box, the Topeka bench began to plead for a penalty shot and Andrew Howard gave them the gift they sought. On the shot Poulsen deked Leisner then tucked it just inside the near post.
The Tornado had several opportunities down the stretch, but Spencer Viele who had replaced Sawyer to start the period made some big saves to preserve the win.
Texas held the edge in shots on goal 33-22 including a 16-5 edge in the third period. The Tornado also converted two of nine power play opportunities while Topeka was 0-6.
“Two goals is not going to cut it,” lamented Curtale. We had several chances but just couldn’t score.
Elsewhere around the NAHL South Division, the Corpus Christi Icerays downed the Amarillo Bulls 2-1 in a game that saw all the scoring coming before the mid point of the second period. The Wichita Falls Wildcats kept pace with Corpus Christi with a 5-1 win over Odessa.