Tornado skid slides to seven in 4-3 loss
Max Shuart scored twice in the third period, but couldn’t lead his team to a win, as the Texas Tornado lost to the Topeka Roadrunners on Friday, 4-3. The loss is the seventh in a row for the Tornado, who fall to three points behind Topeka for second place in the South division. Shuart’s two goals came after Brandon Hawkins netted his league-leading 32nd goal of the season. Hunter Leisner saw 33 shots and made 29 saves, though Spencer Viele got the win in net for the Roadrunners.
Hawkins’s goal was the only one of the first period and was not scored without protest. Scott Conway fed him with a pass and the Macomb, Mi. native ripped a wrist shot past Viele. The puck looked to ricochet off the cross bar and back out front, but referee Jake Brenk emphatically signaled a good goal, giving the Tornado a 1-0 lead. The Roadrunners were unhappy but their protests fell on deaf ears as the Tornado took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission. Before the period ended, though, Shuart got his name in the penalty sheet, dropping the gloves and serving a fighting major with Kyle Sharkey.
The Roadrunners drew even, however, with exactly a minute gone by in the second period. Juraj Kurcirko and Tyler Groat skated into the Tornado zone on a 2-on-1, with Kurcirko taking the puck along the right wing. Kurcirko hit Groat with the pass, which he corralled before sending it past Leisner for a goal. Groat’s fourth of the season was the only marker of the second period, and the two teams started the third period tied at one.
The third period saw all five goals scored within 2:30 of each other, but the Tornado were never able to regain the lead. First, at 7:25, Roadrunners rushed into the zone on the attack. Leisner made the save on an initial shot, but their captain, Drew Kariofiles, crashed the net hard and got the goal to make it a 2-1 Topeka lead. Less than 30 seconds later, Topeka took a penalty and gave the Tornado a power-play. They took advantage as a scramble in front early in the power-play led to eight players around the crease, but a loose puck right by Shuart. With everyone scrambling to try to find it, Shuart calmly wristed it into the open net and tied the score.
The tie was short-lived, as just 25 seconds later, Tomas Nechala ripped a slap-shot from the top of the circles past a screen and Leisner and allowed Topeka to regain the lead. Less than 30 seconds following that, Jerad Tefoya scored a puck right out front and Topeka had a 4-2 lead. Shuart’s second of the night came 54 seconds after Tafoya’s goal, and the Tornado still had 10 minutes left to attempt to tie the score. It was not to be, however, as neither team scored in the final half of the third period and Topeka skated away with a 4-3 victory.
Both teams return to the ice on Saturday for a game at 7:30 p.m. The Tornado are celebrating Youth Jersey Night on Saturday; the first 1500 fans 12 years old and under will receive a free youth jersey courtesy of the Texas Tornado.