Things got off to an ominous start for the Lone Star Brahmas in Topeka on Saturday night. Off the opening draw, Tyler Paulson stripped the puck from Alexey Solovyev at the Roadrunner’s blueline and went into the zone with Michal Uhrik two on one against Johan Steen. Paulson drove down the right side then gave it to Uhrik in the slot for a shot back against the grain and past the glove hand of Jacob Nehama. The goal came just 11 seconds into the contest. At 3:29 Nick Blase was whistled for a checking from behind putting the Roadrunners on the power play. Topeka cashed in on the man advantage at 5:12 on a Paulson wrister from the bottom of the far circle high over the blocker. Cody Champagne and James Ring picked up the assists.
With the Brahmas in an early hole Donovan Gardiner took it upon himself to get the Brahmas fired up. Immediately off the faceoff, Gardiner at 5′ 10″ – 185 dropped the mitts with the 6′ 4″ – 215 Brandon Vuic. Gardiner was game despite the major size and reach disadvantage, but Vuic got the narrow win. Gardiner’s efforts served their purpose though as the Brahmas tightened up and started their comeback.
The Brahmas went on the power play courtesy of a Jasen Fernsler interference call. It took the Brahmas less than 30 seconds to find the back of the net. Solovyev and Anthony Mousseau played catch along the blueline before Solovyev found AJ Duggan free in the far circle for a shot just under the crossbar. Time of the goal was 9:09. Lone Star knotted the score at two apiece at 12:49. Off a draw to Blake Wojtala’s left, Austin Thielges sent the puck from the corner to Todd Koritzinsky at the point for a bomb off Wojtala with the rebound coming out to the right of the goal. Ryan Watson was cruising down from the far point and blasted it home.
Watson scored again at the 1:49 mark of the second to put Lone Star up by a goal. Steen chipped a puck off the glass to Watson who had gotten behind Clint Garris. Watson set sail for the front of the net and muscled the puck through Wojtala chasing him from net. At 4:56, the Road Runners thought they had pulled even as they went in on a 3 – 2 rush. Nehama made a save just as Philip Middleton cross checked Mousseau into the net knocking it off its mooring as Middleton put the puck in the net. Referee Walker Holton waived off the goal immediately and sent Middleton to the box. Watson made Topeka pay with his third of the night just 38 seconds later. Mousseau had sent the puck hard off the end boards and it took a wicked bounce right to Watson crashing the front of the net and he buried it for the hat trick.
Late in the third period, Topeka made things interesting off a mad scramble in front of Nehama. Avni Berisha corralled a loose puck and fired it off the Brahmas’ netminder from point blank range. Mike Gornall slapped it in from just off the near post to make it a one goal game at 16:47. The Roadrunners kept the pressure on and pulled Drew Vogler at 18:50 for the extra attacker. With the clock winding down Nehama made a huge save on Uhrik from about three feet at 19:45.
On the ensuing faceoff, the Roadrunners won it clean back to Gornall at the near point. Gornall’s wrister was blocked on the way to the net by Michael Crowley and Duggan fired it about 175 feet into the empty net to end the Brahmas’ seven game losing streak.
Shots on goal were 37 – 22 in favor of the Roadrunners, although the Brahmas did outshoot Topeka in the second. It was the first time Lone Star had outshot an opponent in a period since the third period of game two. The Brahmas also broke through on the power play converting 2 – 3 opportunities while holding Topeka to 1 – 7.
Elsewhere around the NAHL South Division
Amarillo scored four times in the third to double up the Wichita Falls Wildcats 6 – 3. The win gave the Bulls the weekend sweep. Firework erupted at the end of the second period with the Bulls Mitchell Vanderburgh instigating a six player brawl after the horn sounded. In all 92 minutes of penalties were handed out and all six combatants were sent to the showers.
In Odessa, the Rio Grande Killer Bees got two goals from Nathan Flynn to pace a five goal attack and Olli Kalkaja stopped 25 of 27 shots for a 5 – 2 win.
After spoiling Fairbanks’ home opener on Friday night, the Corpus Christi Icerays were on the short end of a 4 – 1 score on Saturday. Fairbanks scored two in the first and two in the second while Patrick Munson allowed a single goal on 24 shots faced.
Current NAHL South Division Standings
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