RoadRunners skate to Showcase title
The Topeka RoadRunners were crowned champions of the sixth annual Sherwood/NAHL Showcase Tournament after finishing the event with a perfect 4-0 record.
Topeka edged out the Wichita Falls Wildcats, who also finished with a 4-0 mark, in the total goal differential tie-breaker.
“This is quite an accomplishment for us, considering all the great competition in our league,” said RoadRunners head coach Scott Langer. “Obviously, it’s a good start to our year and our focus now is to build off of this success.”
Wichita Falls forward Thomas Erlacher, 20, was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. Erlacher, from Italy, tallied four goals - three game-winners, including two in overtime - and an assist in four games for the Wildcats.
“Thomas came up big at some critical moments this week, there’s no doubt about that,” said Wildcats head coach John Bowkus. “He’s a talented player with a lot of potential and we hope this is just the beginning for him.”
Topeka goaltender Lyle Rocker, a 20-year-old from Williamsville, N.Y., was named the GDI Top Goaltender of the Showcase after posting a 2-0 record to compliment a .50 goals-against average and a .978 save percentage.
Erlacher and Rocker were named to the All-Tournament Team, along with Wichita Falls forward Kyle Delaurell, who finished as the Showcase’s leading scorer with nine points on three goals, Topeka forward Jordan George, Alaska Avalanche defenseman Shawn McNeely and Wichita Falls defenseman Shawn Jameson.
The RoadRunners wrapped up the Showcase with a 3-2 win over the U.S. Under-17 Team. Alec Hagaman rang up the game-winning goal and an assist in the victory, and goaltender Bryce Merriam turned aside 33 shots.
Erlacher’s third-period goal lifted the Wildcats to a 3-2 victory over the Marquette Rangers in their tournament finale. Goaltender Mike Jarboe made 38 saves for the Wildcats to pick up his third win net.
The Traverse City North Stars finished the Showcase with a 4-2 triumph over the Fairbanks Ice Dogs. Four different players lit the lamp for TC, with Kyle Bonis striking for the game-winning goal. Between the pipes, CJ Motte made 35 saves.
Soren Jonzzen connected for two goals as the St. Louis Bandits evened their Showcase record to 2-2 with a 4-1 win over the Blizzard. Grant Gorczyca notched the game-winning tally, and goaltender Erick Cinotti turned back 18 shots.
The Mahoning Valley Phantoms ended the tournament with a 5-1 triumph over the Bismarck Bobcats. Cole Schneider rang up a goal and two assists for the Phantoms, while netminder Jordan Tibbett stopped 35 shots.
“It’s a good start,” said Phantoms head coach Bob Mainhardt, “but now we’ve got to back it up. We need to continue to build; we need to continue to improve.”
Jeremy Morin tallied a hat trick and an assist and Chris Brown and Chris McCarthy each put home two goals as the U.S. Under-18 Team doubled up the North Iowa Outlaws, 8-4. Drew Shore chipped in a goal and three assists for Team USA, while goaltender Brandon Maxwell made 12 saves.
“It was a good bounce back win for our guys; we showed a lot of character coming from behind in the game today,” said Ron Rolston, head coach of Team USA. “I felt that we played our best hockey in the last two periods, which will get us going in the right direction as we head to Alaska for our first games against Division I competition.”
The Alaska Avalanche doubled up the Springfield Jr. Blues, 6-3. Logan Rounds potted a pair of goals for Alaska and Jason Cohen added three assists. Between the pipes, Garrett Tinkam steered aside 33 shots.
Sam Cheraso tallied a pair of goals and Jimmy McCusker and Jay Camper each recorded two assists as the Alpena IceDiggers downed the Wenatchee Wild, 4-3. Goaltender Tyler Stamler made 31 saves for Alpena.
The Owatonna Express blitzed the Kenai River Brown Bears, 12-1. Stephen Carew and Sean Randall each rang up a hat trick for the Express, with Dane Erickson adding two goals. Between the pipes, Adam Buegler stopped 15 shots.
In the Showcase finale, the Motor City Machine bested the Albert Lea Thunder in a shootout, 2-1. Kevin Bechard scored in regulation for the Machine, with Ryan Misiak netting the only goal of the shootout. Motor City goaltender Joe Rogers steered aside seven shots in regulation and all five in the shootout.
F - Kyle Delaurell, Wichita Falls Wildcats
F- Thomas Erlacher, Wichita Falls Wildcats
F - Jordan George, Topeka Roadrunners
D - Shawn Jameson, Wichita Falls Wildcats
D - Shawn McNeely, Alaska Avalanche
G - Lyle Rocker, Topeka RoadRunners