TOPEKA, Kans. – The Wichita Falls Wildcats (32-13-2) erased an early two-goal deficit and pushed the contest to overtime on Friday night, but they could not prevent the Topeka RoadRunners (35-11-4) from skating away with a 4-3 win at Landon Arena.
With the point earned in the overtime loss, the Wildcats have clinched a spot in the 2015 Robertson Cup playoffs.
Nick Farmer, Colin Staub and Evan Okeley all found the net for Wichita Falls, while Shane Kuzmeski turned in a strong performance with two assists. Kevin Charyszyn, Matt Koch and Erich Jaeger also posted helpers, with Austin Shaw making 30 saves on the contest.
Topeka took an early two-goal lead in the first, as Yu Hikosaka scored a pair of goals within the first 5:21 of the period. The ‘Cats responded well though, and almost cut into the deficit when Jake Townsend ripped a one-timer from the right circle after a cross-ice pass, but Drew Vogler extended his glove hand to rob the defenseman.
Wichita Falls controlled the second period, outshooting the RoadRunners 14-6 in the frame, and the red-and-black made that advantage pay with a pair of goals to level the score at two apiece.
Farmer found the net first for the Wildcats and did so on the first power play of the night for the ‘Cats. After Jaeger picked up the puck in the right-wing corner, he fed a pass up to Koch waiting at the left point. Koch then teed up a one-timer for Farmer at the bottom of the left circle, and Farmer made no mistake, blasting the puck past Vogler for his 18th goal of the year.
Four minutes later, Staub tied things for Wichita Falls, and once more it stemmed from the blue line. Charyszyn won the puck in the right-wing corner and fed it through a seam to Kuzmeski at the top of the zone. Kuzmeski put the disc on net with a shot along the ice, allowing Staub to deflect it home.
In the third, the Wildcats took their first lead of the night just over five minutes in on a play in transition. Kuzmeski raced after a clearing attempt to beat an icing and beat the ‘Runners skater back to negate the icing. After getting pinned to the wall by a Topeka defenseman, Kuzmeski fought his stick free and centered to an onrushing Okeley to wire past Vogler to make it 3-2.
The RoadRunners tied the game late though, with Cam Strong scoring on the power play to send the game to overtime.
In the extra session, Topeka took advantage of a friendly bounce of the iron to claim the win, as Dominic Lutz potted a rebound after an initial shot hit the post, giving the ‘Runners the 4-3 victory.
The Wildcats return to the ice to complete their two-game series with the RoadRunners on Saturday, with puck drop slated for 7:15 p.m. at Landon Arena. Fans that cannot make it to the game may follow all the action on FASTHockey.com, with an audio-only broadcast available via YouTube.
Single-game tickets for the 2014-15 Wildcats season are on sale now at the Kay Yeager Coliseum box office. Stay updated on the latest team news and notes by connecting with the Wildcats on Facebook (WFWildcats), Twitter (@WFWildcats), Instagram (WFWildcats) and on YouTube (Wichita Falls Wildcats).
Topeka – Yu Hikosaka (unassisted) 2:14
Topeka – Yu Hikosaka (Ryan Polin) 5:21
Wichita Falls – Nick Farmer (power play) (Matt Koch, Erich Jaeger) 3:00
Wichita Falls – Colin Staub (Shane Kuzmeski, Kevin Charyszyn) 7:02
Wichita Falls – Evan Okeley (Shane Kuzmeski) 5:27
Topeka – Cam Strong (power play) (Carlos Fornaris, Ryan Polin) 15:13
Topeka – Dominic Lutz (Tyler Irvine, Ryan Polin) 4:35